5 Questions with Mike Bravo
This next interview is near and dear to the heart of Jaguarismo. The great Mike Bravo was one of the first to take an open stand against wokoseria in the opening salvo of the MEPA-Flame Wars. Before it became popular to take anything on directly or simply state what you mean online without dozens of qualifiers, Bravo stood tall and typed clear. But one would expect nothing less from our brother in arms. Whether its the question of indigenous identity, the gentrification of neighborhoods, having those difficult conversations within community, whereever there is a good fight to be had you will find Mike Bravo up to the challenge.
Recently Tele-Jaguar had the opportunity to talk with the great Mike Bravo and ask few questions. Enjoy.
1) Tell us about Sixth Sun Ridaz
So Sixth Sun Ridaz is a website I made back 2013 or 2014. Basically an Indigenous education website focusing on practical understanding and employment of our people/s spirituality, philosophy, and worldviews as it applies to the world we find ourselves in today. I never put myself out there like that but people would frequently ask me questions about things Mexican Indigenous. I’ve been through a lot and have done a lot in this Indigenous Activism/Reclamation game over the past what, almost 20 years now. I have made many mistakes and learned many things so it was also intended to share my perspectives and guidance on how to successfully navigate as an Indigenous activist and avoid a lot of the common pitfalls, posers, and manipulators inundating the scene. Also, part of the inspiration was that at the time Mexica Movement seemed to have an internet monopoly on online Mexica (Mexican Indigenous) web content. Got tired of hearing the same old regurgitated “thinking”. Even all the other “independent” Mexica sites basically regurgitated their stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the base of their content and message has been beneficial and precedent setting but that was in the 90s. They also don’t respect Indigenous spirituality. Not go into that too much but I felt and still feel there’s so many topics and information missing from their and other “Mexica” sites. Everything shouldn’t be centered about how much you don’t like White people, it should be centered in your love for yourself, your traditions and your people. Sixth Sun Ridaz goal is also to engage and equip, or remind rather, Indigenous Mexican and Central American peoples of their spiritual and cultural tools. Like I mention on the site, being Indigenous is more than just wearing regalia, putting your fist in the air, and accumulating book facts (which are mostly tainted by western methodology anyway), its about the way you walk, create, conduct yourself, and treat all relations.
2) You are big on promoting digital literacy among Brown and Black communities. Why is it so important for us to learn these skills?
Yes. Digital literacy as it pertains to documenting, defending, and lifting up our narratives. We all know media is biased. One of our main Indigenous teachings is that the Word can be a tool of creation or a tool for harm. If we’re not controlling our word, our image, and our narrative, someone else will and we all know that hasn’t worked out for us. Self sufficiency, self defense, and narrative control in the biggest age of information exchange the world has ever known is critical.
Fuck having to jock or beg someone for press or get mad at the punk ass local media who leaves you out 99% of the time. Do your own write up with a couple respectable relevant images, follow a few digital publishing basics, and boom, your page and exposure is as good as any other site on the net. Fuck having to get mad at the local paper or publishing that dissed you’re event or is perpetuating false narratives about you, your art, your cause or business.. write your own shit that has more truth and share it out. Fuck those child molester apologists who get by on people not knowing about their shenanigans, make a page about them. Anyone Google “Harmony Keepers” lately? 🙂
People are also more inclined to share a web page than someone’s long “great wall of text” post on Facebook that doesn’t even use paragraphs. There’s a lot of great thinkers with great insights that end up only reaching their immediate circle of friends. They could do so much more, impact so much more. My graphic design and web design publishing skills have been a pillar to my successes as an activist and educator. One doesn’t have to be a professional designer. There’s a lot of simple online publishing skills that people can learn which would greatly improve their reach and to success in whatever their “business” is, be it an artist, activist, or any other business. Controlling your/our narrative and image is the key take away.
3) You been fighting gentrification in Venice for a minute. The racism of the gentries has been shockingly open at times. Yet now you see them all backpedaling trying to appear to be part of the solution instead of the problem. This of course is still not the case. What are some of the more glaring hypocritical things you have seen recently coming from the forces of gentrification in Venice California?
Yea, the last 4 years or so my activism has been more Venice centered, lots going on here in my hometown. I don’t know if it’s a backpedal, more like upgraded intensity of their facade and opportunism. This is a town filled with people who espouse themselves progressive but are hella apathetic and staunch agents and apologists for gentrification. There’s a street called Abbot Kinney that’s known for its affluent bougie trendy scene. They had their “BLM” march, stores boarded up with all these “Black Lives Matter” sentiments but that scene is the epitome of systemic racism and everything wrong about Venice. For instance you got that trendy artist Muck Rock who’s not from here with all them graffiti portraits of different Black personas both living and dead. Admittedly the art is cool and catchy at surface but she has people fooled thinking she’s some type of conscious hip hop artist or a real local but in actuality she’s one of the biggest apologists and tools for gentrification here. She works with and hangs with the most egregious gentrification agents. That’s just one example tho. People coming to Venice think that shits cool. Sadly, nobody really does their research about where they go and how to be socially responsible to the communities they visit who are fighting white supremacy, displacement, and other bullshit. Probably even more prevalent in Venice since it’s a city, state, and world famous tourist destination. Gentrifiers, tourists, and visitors in general think Venice is their playground. They come here to have fun. They ain’t trying to hear or be about anything serious or reality based.
4) What’s going on with Venice Baptist Church?
Man. Quick recap for those that don’t know, the First Baptist Church of Venice is 111 year old 7-lot historical Black space/property. The first black church in Venice. #BlackLandMatters and this is the most important Black property in Venice. About 3 years ago it was fraudulently sold by a crooked pastor who sold it to billionaire Jay Penske, son of George Penske of automotive racing fame. Jay Penske owns Penske Media (PMC) which owns Variety and Rolling Stone amongst other media publications. They havent been able to build anything yet because myself and small group of stubborn Blacks and Mexicans have been holding them from building anything. We’ve been through I don’t know how many city hearings and departments. I even had a lawsuit representing myself, against L.A. City Planning which eventually got dismissed this past January 2020 . We keep fighting tho.
Things were a lil slow for that cause after that, trying to recoup some energy and strategy. You know, it’s being almost 3 years, was winter, and then trying to figure out how to get things crackin again. Covid hit
and the normal Sunday gatherings that we’ve been doing the past three years stopped. A big blessing came beginning of June when Ben Affleck came to that protest on Abbot Kinney. My homegirl was making noise at the event about the church and apparently he approached her and talked to her. He held up one of our signs promoting the fight for the church, she took a pic, she sent it to me, I hash-tagged and verbiaged it up on social media, and it went viral. I ended up doing interviews the rest of the day. It got our cause national and international attention and put Jay Penske and our local racist councilperson on full blast. Now with all the BLM movement momentum and this windfall of attention to our cause we’re in the best position we’ve ever been in the past 3 years. We’re gonna win this.
People say you can’t fight big money and it definitely plays a role but there’s a lot to be said for people power, strong hearts, and persistence. If a huevon like myself can do this much I can only imagine what someone younger and more organized could do. You can catch up on the scoop here: https://savevenice.ca/campaigns/save-historical-black-church-venice-ca/
5) Can you introduce us to Ben Affleck?
Not my Ben.
Haha. Come to Venice, I’ll introduce.