¡Ya Basta!, art by Julio Salgado

“Our country isn’t broke – it’s being robbed!”

This is the powerful message that ARTSTRIKE, a fierce collaboration among artists from CultureStrike, 5D Stories, & Rebuild The Dream Innovation Fund, is displaying on its site: “You’ve probably heard about the political game called “The Fiscal Cliff.” But, it’s actually a Fiscal Bluff — a self inflicted crisis designed to create urgency to make us believe our nation is broke and that we must cut vital programs. This is false and we won’t stand for it. Corrupt billionaires, tax-dodging corporations, and those who serve them have manufactured this crisis and are refusing to pay their fair share.”

Being Robbed, art by Fiona Avocado

Jorge-Armando Diaz, an LA-based gay Latino professional in the mental health community, supports the campaign and calls for a tax rate increase on the wealthy: “In my opinion, I believe that until we come to a decision that will benefit all, we will resolve this financial crisis our country is in. As a member of the middle class, I still find myself struggling to manage my finances, therefore, I truly believe that the group that should be taxed and held responsible for a resolution of the financial crisis we are in are those individuals that make over 6 figures and not the middle class, or families impacted by poverty, or single head households that struggle to survive with their children, communities such as the LGBTQ, substance abuse, individuals impacted with HIV/AIDS among other social factors that impact their financial stability. This issue will continue to grow unless those who are above the working middle class are held accountable and responsible to share their wealth and privilege with the rest of the country so that this nation begins to create equality, and diminish social class and differences.”

Don’t Punish Our Future. Make The Rich Pay., art by Ernesto Yerena

Julia Wallace, an African-American genderqueer woman in the social work field, agrees with ARTSTRIKE and states that the working class, the poor, and the oppressed are not responsible for the capitalist crisis: “We have been struggling all our lives, for us to pay a penny for this crisis that the wealthy and well-off have caused is inexcusable. The people who are living paycheck to paycheck shouldn’t pay a penny more in taxes and our services shouldn’t be cut. We need to join the youth, women, LGBTQ, differently-able, undocumented people, workers from all around the world who are refusing to pay for the crisis and fight the wealthy and their defenders in both parties who are trying to make us pay.”

Fiscal Cliff 101, art by Ricardo Levins Morales

Sandra Esqueda, a Latina transgender woman who works as a counselor in Hollywood, believes more federal budget cuts will disproportionally impact people of color, especially the transgender people she helps on the daily: “Middle-class people do not have to pay more taxes. Think of our immigrant women; for instance, think of our transgender immigrant sisters. The Latina transgender community is still facing poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities due to prejudice, machismo, deportation proceedings, police brutality, and transphobia whether politicians, corporations, religious leaders, hiring managers, and the wealthy want to openly acknowledge it or not. The transgender community is also suffering from cuts in healthcare policies. Programs that directly help the most vulnerable populations do not have to be cut. More cuts would represent more barriers for transgender individuals who are trying to have a fair human development. Demanding more taxes from middle-class and low-income transgender human beings is adding more oppression to their lives.”

No More Cuts to Our Community!, art by Maribel Gomez

Van Jones from CNN reported shared today, “I believe this project [ARSTRIKE] conveys a message that policymakers need to hear. And it couldn’t come at a more urgent moment than now, as reports indicate President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner could be nearing a deal that slashes Social Security, cuts benefits for veterans, and raises taxes on the poor and middle class to pay for the Bush wars, tax cuts, and bailouts.”

Revolution!, art by Kira Corser

“Speaking of wars and bailouts,” Julia Wallace adds, “Let’s not forget the prison industrial complex and the war on drugs. Think of the majority of incarcerations which are non-violent drug offenses; these people come out of jail and they’re worse off; they’re not even rehabilitated. These incarcerations are causing millions of dollars. And the war in Iraq, in Mexico, all military occupations are causing people not only to lose their lives, but costing us all trillions of dollars. Why cut vital programs that help our middle-class and low-income people when the military budget in the US is bigger than every single other country’s military budget combined?”

It’s Not A Fiscal Cliff, It’s a Fiscal Bluff, art by Ingrid Cruz

Leslie Monroy, a health educator serving transgender immigrant women at a non-profit organization, shares her opinion: “Mucha gente de bajos recursos, aun estando trabajando, debemos de dividir nuestro dinero entre nuestras familias para sobrevivir. Me parece un abuso del sistema que la gente con tantos millones no tengan esa disponibilidad, esa solidaridad de querer pagar mas taxes para apoyar a quienes no han gozado de las mismas oportunidades. El gobierno debe intervenir para proteger a las personas mas vulnerables. En la historia de los impuestos nunca habido una situacion en la que la clase trabajadora se beneficie sin tener que sufrir del acoso y la falta de entendimiento de la gente que quiere seguir acumulando riquezas. Somos nosotr@s quienes tenemos que trabajar para beneficiar a los ricos. Haciendoles el trabajo, recibiendo poco sueldo, y todavia tenemos que contemplar la posibilidad de pagar mas taxes?? A mi me parece muy injusto y muy cruel que tanta gente con millones de dolares en este pais no quieran apoyar positivamente la estabilidad mental, educacional, y fisica de personas de bajos recuersos. Si yo fuera una mujer de altos recursos, estaria de acuerdo con pagar mas, incluso me haria una mejor persona y una mujer mas feliz. Porque no pagan mas los que tienen mas? Es egoismo lo que reina.”

Stop the Fiscal Grinches from Robbing Our Communities!, art by Graham Boyle

Brenda Ceniceros, a heterosexual Latina case manager helping homeless people and people living with HIV, thinks “drastic cuts to agencies, schools, to important programs that protect communities of color, low-income neighbors, it’s not just gonna affect these particular individuals and families, but ALL of us in general. What might ‘affect’ the rich [paying more taxes], might benefit us all as a whole, as the UNITED States of America.”

Build Bridges, Not Cliffs., art by Chris Ridler

Check out ARTSTRIKE now & spread the word: #NOMORECUTS.
Visit: http://arstrike.tumblr.com

Make Deadbeat Corporations Pay. Stop Robbing Our Communities., art by Melanie Cervantes

Ronnie Veliz

Ronnie Veliz, born in La Libertad, Peru and raised in the San Fernando Valley of California, is a queer migrant of faith who advocates and organizes for youth empowerment; more schools, less prisons; gender & racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation. Ronnie is the Southern California Program Manager at the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Network and an Advisory Board Member of Latino Equality Alliance (LEA). He joined the GSA movement while attending LA Valley College in 2007 and has a degree in Psychology and a background in public education. From his student activism to contributing to the passage of the FAIR Education Act, conversion therapy ban, and the TRUST Act, Ronnie has built coalitions with queer, trans, and straight students, immigrant youth, and youth with disabilities in communities of color. Ronnie has led several grassroots campaigns for health and public safety across California and mobilized thousands of youth and parents with the campaign Pathway to Citizenship in Bakersfield. He has previously served as a counselor at Bienestar; teacher assistant at LAUSD; health educator at Instituto Familiar De La Raza, and has led grassroots campaigns to help release undocumented queer youth from immigration detention centers. Recently, Ronnie toured across California with Chicana feminist artist Carolina Alcala with the art+activism family acceptance project "Protect Our Children" and co-founded Somos Familia Valle, an organization for youth and parents to build healthier communities in the San Fernando Valley by empowering the LGBTQ, Latin@ community, and all straight supporters to engage in transformative dialogue, peaceful demonstrations, and familiar collectivism. He can be reached at TheRonnieVeliz@gmail.com

One thought on “¡YA BASTA! #NOMORECUTS

  • December 20, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Ronnie, Great article! Very informative and insightful. Leslie Monroy’s opinion in Spanish was great…

    The artwork is wonderful! I posted it on Latino Equality Alliance’s FB page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.