How Occupy LA Set Paulina González on the Path to ‘Authentic Journalism’

There’s a fantastic essay today on by Paulina González, a Southeast Los Angeles native who by means of a very unusual trajectory, now finds herself teaching at the Authentic School of Journalism. The non-profit organization is based out of Easthampton, MA, but Gonzalez is set for a second professorial stint next month in Mexico City.

After dropping out of a hoity-toity Liberal Arts college, González wound up getting involved in union organizing. Then, last year, a three-day Authentic School workshop in New York City rekindled her interest in writing and sparked a visit to Occupy LA. She writes:

I felt the familiar anger boiling up in me after one night of the General Assembly. Yes, I had and have anger at the “Wall Street” that had fired my father many years before, but now there was also anger at a movement that threatened to exclude people like my father. I put pen to paper, and wrote. My anger, frustration, hope and 17 years of organizing training spilled onto the page. It felt good.

As I read the words I had written, I realized that I had something to teach, and it wasn’t what I had learned behind ivy covered academic walls. It was what I had learned while being sprayed with pesticides while four months pregnant and organizing in farm fields. It is what I had learned on the picket line beside by father in the hotel worker organizing and contract fights in Los Angeles. It is what I had learned in South Central Los Angeles fighting along sides families against displacement and for their right to stay in their community.

And it is on the ground at Occupy LA that González embraced the calling of “authentic journalism.” As such, she reminds that these kinds of personal transformations are what may turn out to be the longest-lasting benefit of the aborted movement. González wound up teaching at the Authentic School’s 2012 Mexico session and will be heading back down there shortly to teach alongside 39 others. Bravo!