Today Oct. 4, 2015, as is customary on every Sunday, Serve the People – Los Angeles went out to Hollenbeck Park to serve the poor and working class community of Boyle Heights.
However, when we arrived we witnessed a group of exclusively white people strolling around the park; one person, dressed like a pseudo-vaudevillian in front of a paletero cart, playing it like a drum, a woman on the Hollenbeck Park stage playing the cajón, dressed like a forgotten purple Power Ranger, a woman on roller skates with a parasol, and a man, in a deep white V-neck T-shirt with a fedora singing, leading the entire absurd group.
A circus of white, privileged petite-bourgeoisie literally occupying a historically oppressed neighborhood that has and is fighting against gentrification.
The group was Hopscotch Los Angeles, a mobile alternative Los Angeles-based opera project of their parent company The Industry. The company is trying to bring opera to the masses, irrespective of the content of the Opera or its relation to the communities in Los Angeles.
After serving the people groceries, we confronted the all-white performers, the all-white staff and the all-white audience members, who each paid $125 to watch this vapid, boringly avant garde, anti-proletarian (bourgeois) waste of instruments, breath and time.
White tourists, exploring and fetishizing a predominantly Chicano/Mexican/Central American community. Their responses were predictable, racist and colonialists.
Several members of Serve the People – Los Angeles interrupted their performance, heckled the performers.
“We’re not gentrifiers! We’re putting on an art show!”
“We’re entertaining the community!”
Hollenbeck Park is known for its huge lake with ducks. Some of our members fed and lured the ducks over to the performers, the quacking interrupting the performance. A spin on Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary.” By any quacks necessary.
But the oppressed nationalities of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles do not want empty art that says nothing of Chicano/Mexican/New Afrikan struggle and history. Our communities cannot afford, nor do they want, to follow around white performers singing in our parks, on our hills.
We told them that Boyle Heights is not a safe space for their circus, that the masses of Boyle Heights won’t tolerate gentrification, that they are, in fact, in danger, that they will get physically hurt. Not by us. But by the people.
At their behest, we spoke with an employee of the park. Unbeknownst to the Hopscotch Los Angeles crew, the employee himself is a survivor of gentrification and a resident of Highland Park (Northeast Los Angeles). The park’s employee was sympathetic. We urged him to send the message to the Hopscotch crew that Boyle Heights is not a safe space for gentrifiers. And for the sake of their safety, they should immediately leave.
The woman with the parasol and roller skates said she, and her crew, were not gentrifiers because they were not from Boyle Heights. This is an incorrect and incomplete understanding of gentrification.
Gentrification is the natural development of savage and developed capitalism, a sort of colonialism, where poorer communities and their culture are displaced by people with more capital. While it is true that the Hopscotch crew may not be developers or real estate agents, their inaccessible, white high-art is a cultural attack on the history and contemporary culture of Boyle Heights. Projects like Hopscotch open the doors for white artists and hipsters and gentrifiers and city council sellouts and city agencies who don’t give a fuck about building proletarian power and preserving community.
One of the facets of gentrification is cultural hegemony and white supremacy. And the only effective way to combat the totality of gentrification is by emphasizing its connection to capitalism-imperialism. And you fight capitalism-imperialism with war, a Peoples’ War.
Serve the People – Los Angeles is committed to the masses of Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Echo Park and everywhere in the city where poor and working class people are struggling to survive.
Death to gentrification!
Gente si, gentrification no!
It won’t stop unless you stop it!
Down with capitalism-imperialism!
Build Serve the People – Los Angeles chapters! Run the hipsters out of our communities, our hoods, our barrios!