By Gabriel San Roman
“Anaheim is contrast. Anaheim is conflict. Anaheim is inequality. Anaheim is where the past is fighting with the future to determine the present of us all.”
With that poetic summary, longtime activist and writer Roberto Lovato kicked off the inaugural episode of Américans, a web series produced by TeleSUR English. As host, he takes a look at “how Latinos are transforming the United States and what it means to be Américan, living in the the country that calls itself America while at the same time connected to the continent that is América.”
In the smoldering wake of Anaheim’s social unrest two summers ago following controversial fatal police shootings, the city has become a central case study to that question.
The episode of Américans clocks in under 10 minutes and makes the most of its time, unpacking complex issues with brevity. As a lifelong Anaheim resident and reporter with the Orange County Weekly, Lovato met me outside of Disneyland as we spoke about how Disney is courting Latino consumers nationwide, how local Latinos are changing their perception of the theme park and lastly about the case of Joel Acevedo who was shot and killed by an Anaheim policeman in a barrio on the opposite side of the freeway separating it from “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Lovato presses on speaking with Donna Acevedo, Joel’s mother, who recounts the events of July 22, 2012 when her son was killed. She seeks to transform personal tragedy into collective triumph by becoming an engaged activist and running for Anaheim City Council this year. She recently qualified for the ballot.
The first installment of Américans heads to City Hall next interviewing councilwoman and mayoral candidate Lucille Kring. Her quotable moment of the conversation lays in her response to Lovato’s question about Latino representation on city council in concomitance with their demographic majority status in Anaheim as being a good thing.
“I don’t think so,” she bluntly states.