Gang Intervention Program in LA

Jobs, Not Jails: LA Gang Intervention using Jalapeño Cheddar Loaves

"What if we were to invest in gang members, rather than just seek to incarcerate our way out of this problem?" - Father Greg Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart


On a sweltering July day in the summer of 2016, gazebos lined South Pasadena's weekly farmer's market, held every Thursday near the Metro train stop. In simple block letters read Homeboy Bakery, and under it, an overwhelming amount of spiced loaves, large chocolate chip cookies, and buttery carb-y pastries. Behind the counter was a man- bald, tattooed, and intimidating. As I picked up a jalapeño-cheddar loaf, I mentioned to him that I was a huge fan of the bakery, its mission, and its people. He was delighted by my mention of meeting his company's founder and my adoration of the company itself. When it was due for me to go, I didn't have cash to purchase my loaf of bread. I was about to return the loaf onto the dark blue table, but the man placed his trust in me. He allowed me to take what I wanted, with the promise that I would return the next week to pay him back. Trusting a stranger. Feeling compassion. Showing love.

Homeboy Bakery is nestled in Los Angeles' Chinatown, adjacent to their sister, Homegirl Cafe. Both eateries are from Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program focused on pushing the "restart" button on the social lives of marginalized gang members.

The program offers gang members, even those who are from enemy gangs, employment through their many job opportunities that range from silk screening, solar panel installation, and, of course, bakeries and restaurants. Additionally, the company provides educational services, such as GRE prep, mental health services for domestic abuse and substance abuse, tattoo removal, and legal counseling. The program seeks to decrease incarceration and death within gang communities by emulating their slogan "Jobs, Not Jails."

In the wake of DuVernay's documentary, 13th, American society is gaining awareness of incarceration in this country. The overpopulation, unfair circumstance and intentional abuse and mistreatment faced by inmates scream "injustice." Additionally, socio-political conversations on immigration, particularly the mistreatment of young children at the US-Mexico border, has highlighted a perception of the "other" rather than the "human." As a society, we have responded with a lack of compassion and marginalization for people we deem different.

Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, writes in his novel Tattoos on the Heart about the boundless love and compassion he has felt towards gang members and how this love has transformed their lives and their relationship with others. The novel and program come from a very loving place as Boyle, a white priest, emulates patience and compassion towards gang members, mostly Latino or Black, who have been surrounded by death and criminalization. It's a touching novel that explores the marginalization gang members feel, regardless of their imprisonment history, because we as a society have pushed them and their broken narratives into a corner. People shudder at the thought of places with "high gang activity," but fail to recognize that gang life is a response to society's lack of compassion towards those in poverty, those living in under-resourced areas, and/or coming from immigrant families. The novel leaves the message that no matter who you are or what you have done, you are capable and deserving of love.

Gang life is complex, and the reasons why people enter and stay in them is complex in and of itself. Multiple socioeconomic factors play a role in these individuals' lives, factors that are mostly out of their control. Homeboy pushes these technicalities aside and sees the human behind the bars who seeks help, compassion, and love. If only we can perceive the world in this way- with love rather than fear or hate. Love takes on many forms, but overall, it seems to be a willingness to open up without judgment or predisposition, with blind trust and faith, and with boundless compassion.

You can support Homeboy at your:

  1. Local Los Angeles Farmer's Market
  2. Local Ralph's that sell Homeboy made chips and salsa (I recommend the pineapple ginger)
  3. The LAX airport now has their own Bakery location
  4. If you're in the LA area, visit Homeboy Bakery or Homegirl Cafe (the chilaquiles? AMAZING.)
  5. Volunteer for educational, legal, and medical services
  6. Learn more at

For me, love was placing the green paper on the man's tired hands for two things: 1) my loaf of jalapeño cheese bread and 2) the blind trust he placed on me to return the next week in that sweltering July heat.

High school me taking selfies with the founder of Homeboy IndustriesAshley Lanuza

*cover photo not affiliated with Homeboy Bakery

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As A Female Christian Millennial, I Fully Support Alabama's Abortion Ban Because I Know God Would, Too

A life always has worth, no matter the circumstances.


Alabama's state legislature passed a bill on May 14, 2019 that makes it illegal for abortions to be performed past six weeks of pregnancy. Doctors who are caught violating the law could be sentenced up to 99 years in prison. The bill is the strictest anti-abortion bill to date this year as states try to pass laws to challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

While the law does allow an exception to women whose lives are at risks, it does not allow for abortions in the event of rape or incest. I support Alabama's new law, and I applaud them for their efforts to protect the rights of unborn children.

As a Christian, I believe that life is a precious gift from God and should be treated with care.

The sixth commandment is, "Thou shalt not kill," and Jesus said the second greatest rule was to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40). I believe this applies to every person born and unborn. But, even from a secular perspective, there are reasons that support an unborn child's right to life. Let's break down two of the most important components of the bill: abortion itself and the case of rape and incest.

A big argument in the debate is whether a baby is alive before it is born or only after it is born.

I believe can be explained and answered with simple medical science. In the medical profession, a person is pronounced dead when there is no more activity in the brain, known as brain-dead.

At that point, they consider there to be no more life in the body.

The opposite of death is life, so if you have electrical signals still coursing through your brain, then you are alive. A fetus begins to have electrical activity in its brain at six weeks. Most women do not find out they are pregnant until around that time, so by the time they decide to have an abortion, the baby, by all medical accounts, is alive.

Another indicator of whether a person is dead or dying is their pulse.

The pulse is how many times a person's heart beats per minute. If a person does not have a pulse, they will more than likely die if their heart cannot be resuscitated because no oxygen is getting to their brain.

Medical personnel does everything they can to start a person's heart back because they know that the heart is key to life.

A baby's heart begins to beat at five weeks old, again before the mother knows she is pregnant and can choose to have an abortion. Since the United States' justice system upholds that killing a person is wrong, then shouldn't killing a baby, who is alive, be wrong too? I think this is plenty of proof that aborting a baby is killing a living person and is therefore wrong.

Rape and incest are two horrible acts that should be punished. It is never the victim's or conceived a child's fault in the situation.

Given the reasons above for why abortion is wrong, I also believe, while both crimes are horrendous, that abortion is still not the answer to this problem. I do understand, however, that women, because of the traumatic experience or other reasons, may not be able to care for the child.

As such, I am an advocate for adoption.

There are many couples out there who cannot have children on their own who would love to adopt. In order, for this to be a viable option, though, Congress needs to make amendments to adoption laws.

Adoption is outrageously expensive, much more costly than an abortion, and is a long and tedious process.

Though the laws are in place so that not just anybody can adopt a child, the government still could stand to relax laws a little. Another option could be to offer aid to those who wish to adopt specifically to cover adoption expenses or to only those who meet certain requirements. If we want to protect unborn children, we must give women and families more viable options.

I know that my views are not popular, but God did not call us to be popular, He called us to be His disciples.

I will not compromise my convictions because I am in the minority. I support the women who have to face this dilemma, and I pray that they and our government officials make the right decisions and aid these women and families in need of help.

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.


There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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