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How To LA: Cal State Students Of Color Fight For A Safe Space

Three Black college women embrace and smile at the camera.
CSUDH students Terrie Kennon, Catherine Gray and Jenesis Sears spend time at the campus Black Resource Center.
(Adolfo Guzman-Lopez
LAist )
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Some of my favorite college memories included being connected with my campus’ Black cultural center, Black Student Union and our chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. I also found solidarity and learning opportunities by attending the Latino cultural center events as well. These places were all safe spaces for me and other Black and Brown students to talk about how we felt in an institution that was originally designed for privileged white males to succeed in society. Outside of those centers, being in predominantly white classes and dorms could sometimes be isolating, even traumatic.

CSUDH students of color want more from administrators

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But my college experience was a decade ago … and in the Midwest. Even now, experiencing implicit and overt discrimination has proven to be one of the barriers that prevents students from completing postsecondary programs.

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In my colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez’s latest story, current students at Cal State Dominguez Hills — the most ethnically diverse Cal State University school — are facing similar hardships when it comes to finding a safe space outside of these cultural centers and racial/ethnic-focused classes to talk about race. And after several incidents, like the slow opening of the Asian American student center, racist slurs on the cover of the student newspaper and the Aramark Corp. contract that students say is a part of the “prison industrial complex,” students are asking university administrators to step up as an institutional, governing body when it comes to race. Students told Adolfo they want administrators to be more purposeful when they listen to their concerns.

Read Adolfo’s story to learn more about what students want from their administrators, and what the leaders have done to connect with students.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

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Wait ... One More Thing

How I Got Started: Gina Young

A pink, orange gradient graphic with a fair-skinned white woman in the center. The words read How To LA. How I Got Started with Gina Young
Gina Young is a theater director, musician, songwriter and DJ who lives in L.A.
Gina Young)
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The How To LA podcast team is back with another edition of How I Got Started. In the latest podcast episode, host Brian De Los Santos spoke with Gina Young, a queer artist who wears a lot of creative hats in L.A. They are a theater director, musician, songwriter and DJ.

Two fair-skinned women pose in a photo.
Gina Young and their DJ partner, Sorrell
Gina Young)

Their mission is to create a safe, artistic space for queer, marginalized folks in L.A., specifically women and non-binary people. They’ve written several plays and musicals about the lesbian and queer experience.

A group of people pose inside a studio.
Gina and students at Feminist Acting Class
Gina Young )

Their career in L.A. started 11 years ago.

“I had kind of a false start,” Young said. “Like when I first moved here, I was working in TV and I thought that I was just gonna keep going and keep going, keep going. And then it didn't work out that way. And I ended up sort of figuring things out and working part-time in theater box offices again, which is what I had done when I was younger.”

What’s their pro-tip for living in L.A.?

“I think my pro tip about L.A. is definitely that you have to find where you fit,” Young said. “I think that when I first moved to L.A. everyone who knew me was like, ‘You're gonna hate it there.’ I just felt like, ‘No, you all don't know what you're talking about.’ L.A. is a huge city, and that's the biggest thing that I tell people is that L.A. is huge. You can find anything you're looking for here.”

Listen to the rest of Young’s story and check out their performance series called Sorority. If you’re a queer woman or non-binary person, dance the night away at their monthly queer dance party Divorce.

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