Several ASU students have created a community organization known as Mala Collectivus to foster discourse and creative representation among people of color at ASU and the greater Phoenix area.
Mala Collectivus is a collective of young people that began in 2015 and came together to promote advocacy for people of color through music, culture and art. They hope to collaborate with Palabras Bilingual Bookstore in Phoenix on various projects from book clubs to film clubs.
Mala Collectivus has their own line of products including shirts, pins, posters, zines, and patches.
So far this summer, Mala Collectivus has held two book club sessions at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore.
Gathered around the table of typewriters, they sit and discuss books such as "High Aztech" a chicanx science fiction book that speaks about a topic Palabras bookstore advocates for: the duality of identity that exists in being Mexican-American.
The challenge is not only in knowing both languages, but in understanding their own culture beyond the borders of American life. Palabras owner Rosaura Magaña said that she would like to set up Spanish classes this summer.
"Our intention with the classes is to help connect community with Latinx culture through language and also help Latinos strengthen their connection to their own culture, and to their Spanish-speaking family members through language," Magaña said.
Although Mala Collectivus do not claim to be an ASU organization (though some of their members are ASU students), they do hope their work empowers spaces at ASU that would otherwise be left unrepresented.
"I have no intention of specifically connecting with college students, in fact I believe that intention would create more of a divide," Magaña said. "My belief is that everyone has the ability to educate themselves and each other and do not necessarily have to rely on the world of academia to be intelligent, credible or successful."
Lucy Sandoval, a social and cultural analysis major, said simply existing outside of institutional spaces can be a radical act.
"Having events out of ASU, to communities that don’t necessarily get to have an academic space but still get to be part of these discussions is what we aim for," Sandoval said.
Sandoval said that the broadening of these spaces are necessary. She said that Palabras strongly aligns with these values, and that spaces like this need to become more common in Phoenix, like they are in Los Angeles.
"It’s really about wanting a space that represents the community and not just a gentrified community," Sandoval said.
The gentrification in Phoenix is not a new phenomenon, as is seen through the pushing out of local small business and POC business owners in downtown Phoenix.
Jeff Slim, manager at Palabras bookstore, said that allowing everyone from all walks of life the accessibility to literature is essential. He hopes that the bookstore promotes the idea of social interaction and meditation that comes from having a safe space for writing, while also being able to collaborate your work with other like-minded writers.
"There are moments when I see beyond color; and instead see everyone sharing writing," Slim said.
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