Los Angeles, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) and its 5 local chapters in the City of Los Angeles, ANCA Hollywood, ANCA Crescenta Valley, ANCA San Fernando Valley East, West and North congratulate Eric Garcetti on being elected as the next Mayor for the great City of Los Angeles. Though the City Clerk has not yet returned canvass for the May 21, 2013 City of Los Angeles Elections, Garcetti stands strong with a 26,498 vote difference over Wendy Greuel.
“The ANCA-WR congratulates Mr. Garcetti and looks forward to continuing its strong working relationship with him,” stated Elen Asatryan, ANCA-WR Executive Director. “We are confident that he will move the City of Los Angeles in the right direction as Mayor and will continue to stand strong on issues of importance to his large Armenian-American constituent base,” continued Asatryan.
As the councilmember representing Little Armenia, Garcetti has always been a great friend and a strong supporter on issues of concern to the Armenian-American community. His many accomplishments include consistently calling upon the U.S. Government to recognize the independence of Artsakh and the Armenian Genocide, helping initiate the sister-city partnership between Los Angeles and Yerevan, advocating for city council to add Armenian language to election ballots and materials, and providing funding to support programs and projects of many community based organizations and projects such as the Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen L.A., Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and the Armenian Youth Federation. As Mayor, Garcetti will be representing over 150,000 Armenian-Americans that live in the City of Los Angeles.
ANCA-WR endorsed Garcetti and Greuel in both the primary and general elections given that each, in their own capacity, had a proven track record on issues of importance to the Armenian-American community. In an effort to ensure a high Armenian-American voter turnout, ANCA-WR and its local chapters activated their grassroots efforts for the Los Angeles elections. The long list of ANCA-WR undertakings leading up to Election Day included heavy voter registration and community education initiatives, GOTV efforts, and equipping each candidate’s campaign with community volunteers.
“We thank Ms. Greuel for her commitment and support throughout the years and congratulate her on a very well-run campaign. ANCA-WR extends its support to Ms. Greuel in any future political endeavors she may undertake,” added Asatryan.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
By: Christine Feghali
The biggest problem facing the Armenian community today is apathy. A majority of the Armenians today are too consumed with what kind of car they drive, how their hair looks, and what brands they are wearing to keep up with what is going on in the world. Too many of the Armenian youth do not know where Artsakh is, how to speak Armenian, who Erdogan is, what Hye Tahd is, or what the purpose of voting is.
This needs to change.
The apathy has become more apparent than ever over the past week. As interns, we attended the Homenetmen Navasartian Festival with the goal to register as many Armenian voters as possible. November 6th, 2012 is a huge opportunity for the Armenian community; if we were to all come together in solidarity and project our voice, we could elect the pro-Armenian candidates that are working for our cause. We can ensure that we have officials who are working towards our best interests by promoting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and by encouraging the United States to stop supporting Turkey and Azerbaijan.
One would think that this is enough to convince not only the Armenian youth, but also Armenians of all ages to register to vote. But it’s not. There were too many people who said they don’t care about voting, or that they don’t believe in voting, or that they don’t support the governmental system, or that they’ve never voted and they never want to, or that their vote doesn’t count. This is a HUGE problem. If everyone has this mentality, our voice becomes nonexistent and becomes less powerful. As a community, we need to realize that our numbers are small compared to the number of people in the country or even the state. The important thing to keep in mind is that we make up a large proportion of certain local districts and if we all register and vote for the pro-Armenian candidates, we can have a large impact on the future of our community.
Robert M. Hutchins stated, “…the death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” If we don’t stop being apathetic and don’t start being active in politics, we can forget about Hye Tahd. We can forget about having the Armenian voice heard. We cannot get what we want without the help of people in high places. We are too small a group to be apathetic.
What we need is for more people to realize the potential of the our Armenian community. Potential means nothing unless it’s realized, so it’s time to stop being idle, stop being apathetic, and start being active.
If you haven’t already registered to vote, click on the link below and follow the instructions. Take two minutes to register and become a part of an election that can positively impact your Armenian community!
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Zara’s post about her experiences with registering people to vote at Navasartians!
The Kardashians made the news last weekend. Actually, they’re in the news a lot, and very little of it is good. Spearheaded by middle-sister Kim, the trio has steadily risen to fame over the past few years. However, they rarely, if ever, mention that they are Armenian. I guess it’s understandable. They are half-Armenian, after all. Additionally, unlike most Armenians you might meet in L.A., they are not the children of immigrants. Their Armenian father was not even the child of immigrants. Both of their grandparents were born in Los Angeles, and their great-grandparents came to America before the genocide. It’s interesting to think that the Kardashian sisters put Armenia on the map when you consider that they themselves know so little about it. They consider themselves 4th generation Armenians.
If any of you missed the episode, Khloe’s husband Lamar was given the opportunity to play basketball in Turkey during the NBA lockout. While Lamar considered the option, Khloe looked troubled. I couldn’t understand why. Khloe mentioned that her father raised them to be “proud Armenians.” I wonder what exactly that means. What does it mean to be proud of where you come from? Does it mean that you learn all that you can about it, work to preserve it, try to better it? Does it mean take it into account only when it benefits you? Or that you remember it always?
One entry on Kim Kardashian’s website describes what she has grown up learning. “Growing up, my grandmother talked to us about [the genocide] often and I even did a report on it for my history class. I find that knowing your heritage is important in knowing yourself.” She included her grandparents’ wedding photo.
On another occasion, she has stated that she does not speak Armenian and has never been to Armenia, despite finding the time to travel to many other countries. Many people I have talked to this week commend the Kardashians for underscoring the importance of the Armenian Genocide. But, somehow, I’m left wanting more. These women are aware of where their great-grandparents came from and what their fate could have been. Yet, I doubt that Khloe ever thinks about the offenses that were committed against her father’s people. To be honest, before this internship began, I rarely thought about the genocide. Now, it comes to mind continually. For example, I watched PBS’s The Powder & the Glory this weekend. The narrator revealed that Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, two cosmetic industry magnates, began their lifelong rivalry in 1914 New York. This was a time and place where society women were trying lipstick for the first time. And all I could think about was what my great-grandmothers were doing in 1914 in Adana and Hajun. They knew it was coming.
While I do think about these things and work to remember, better, and preserve my culture, I’m not the one with the camera crew and 3.5 million viewers. The Kardashians have the means to do something big. While I do appreciate the sudden interest in their culture, I wish that the suffering of an entire people—of my family—was a not relegated to a simple dramatic device and a little snag to overcome. I’ll keep waiting for them to do something that I can really be proud of.
Recently I read an article called “History Lessons in Armenia and Azerbaijan.” To summarize, it talked about how school history books are written in both countries. One of my favorite topics has always been history, and I was appalled at the way history books were written in Azerbaijan. To give you an idea, here is a bit from the article:
“Tofig Veliyev, head of the Slavic history department at Baku State University, is the author of this textbook, and insists he had to use negative language in order to tell the truth. ‘Those phrases give an accurate picture of the Armenians,’ Veliyev said. ‘I would be falsifying history unless I described them like that.’”
By ‘these phrases’ he is referring to words that are used in the books such as, “fascists,” “our eternal enemies,” and “terrorists.” I can say that as an Armenian, this infuriated me. As a student, it’s a different story. I attended a very liberal high school, so I am not used to propaganda and lies. Most of my history books were boring and concrete. There was no bias at all. In my high school, my world history teacher took a day off and taught us about the Armenian Genocide from notes he prepared himself because our history book had one sentence about it. Seeing how history ‘professors’ are slanting history and writing books that are lies and getting away with it makes me wonder what their intentions are. Azerbaijan is raising generations of students who will hate Armenians.
Rouben Galichian writes about Armenian geography, and one of his books talk about how Azerbaijan history distorts Armenian history and claims it as its own. He started writing about the topic because of his concern of Azerbaijani claims. One of these historical monuments is the medieval Armenian cemetery at Julfa, which Azerbaijan called their own and then destroyed it. He also talks about the Aliyev Foundation, which spends millions on publishing books about ‘Azerbaijan history.’ One of the books that the Aliyev Foundation distributed had a map of Armenia on the cover and it says, “Western Azerbaijan.” In the book all the monuments in Armenia are named either Turkish or Turkic. I think that something like this should raise the alarm for Armenians across the world.
I believe that we should be teaching students in schools about peace, tolerance and ways to get along. Instead, there are countries like Azerbaijan, who write books based on biases. Those kids will never want to work with Armenians in positive ways. It is not professional to write books that refer to any group of people as fascists or terrorists.
One of the things I didn’t like in high school was a teacher who wanted you think exactly like they did. I have had teachers who wanted me to write essays from three different points of views so that I could decide which one I believed in. But I also had teachers who wanted me to write what they fed me. The reason I think like I do is because of teachers who made me get to the conclusion on my own.
This is such a hard topic to write about because, as I write this, I think of all the students who are in Azerbaijan–the ones that are learning right now to hate me. I feel sorry for them because they will never understand, tolerate, or even be remotely correct. This anti-Armenian behavior sickens me, but I guess you can’t expect more from ignorant people. All I can say now is that as long as history is distorted by so called ‘professionals’ there will never be peace among anyone.
This blog was first written out by hand, on paper, with a pen. Typing has largely replaced this activity, but sometimes I like to take the antiquated approach and watch my pen move across paper. There is a fluidity and aggression associated with writing by hand. But I’m starting to notice that that’s not always the case. For instance, if I were writing this blog in Armenian, the scenario would be very different. That fluidity and aggression would be replaced by uncertainty and apprehension.
February 21st was International Mother Language Day. The term mother language is something that has always made me a little bit uneasy. It says more than the contemporary phrase “native language” or the very sterile “L1” that has come into use. If the language is indeed a mother, then that uneasiness I feel probably can be aptly called guilt—mothers tend to give and sacrifice, children tend to disregard and neglect. I don’t think it is inaccurate to say that we tend to neglect this mother. In fact, even representatives of many state offices in Armenia use the Roman alphabet for official documents and letters
I attended an Armenian school. I write, read, and speak the language, but there is considerably more labor involved if I try to communicate in Armenian. Until I was four, the only language I spoke was Armenian, so while I am technically a second language English speaker, English has become my naturalized language and gets far more use—particularly in written communication where my Armenian may falter the most. This phenomenon appears in most Armenians of my generation living in the U.S. We are trained in the usage of the mysterious symbols, but we rarely (or never) use them.
All of these concerns arose while watching someone write her name in Armenian recently. I have always been fascinated by the handwriting of others. It tends to reveal a lot about an individual—ambition, creativity, intelligence, innocence. But observing the Armenian handwriting of this particular individual made me reflect on how similar it was to my own—underdeveloped. Somehow, most of our handwriting looks exactly the same in our mother language. It’s awkward and clumsy, never having progressed beyond a fledgling state. And then I worried, if our handwriting offers insight into our individuality and character, what does this say about our Armenian identities? If the way we communicate determines how we are perceived by society, how we interact with society, and how we function within society, I wonder, then, what a stunted sociolinguistic growth means for us as a new generation of Armenians.
I have had it drilled into my brain that education is the key to success. The “drilling” was not bad but it did have side effects. When kids were out playing, my mother would make me copy words from the dictionary. I would constantly be complaining about it, and her answer was one of these: “Do you want to work at McDonald’s or become someone who is successful in life?” or, “We didn’t come to America so you could throw your future away.” One of the main reasons she wanted me to do very well was because English was my third language, at the time. We had moved to America and it is still, “the land of opportunities.” My mother like many other mothers of immigrants wants a good future for her kids. Needless to say I became a book nerd. I remember going to the library over the summer breaks and coming back with two bags of books. I used to take books with me to parties because I got bored and wanted to read. To this day reading is my favorite pastime.
Growing up, we had a television in the house, but to this day we don’t have any added cable channels other than the ones you get on basic cable. It was not because we could not afford it, but because my mother believes that television is a distraction. I was never told not to watch television, but she preferred that I read. Like I said before, reading is one of my favorite things to do, but lately I have been realizing I have not been reading at all. I want to blame my Internet, but I know that most of the blame is on me. I have discovered the addiction to watching movies and television shows online. I started watching old shows I used to watch that have ended. Shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Gilmore Girls,” and now I am stuck on “One Tree Hill.”
My school starts February 6th and the schedule I have for myself makes my mother think I will probably go crazy during this semester. In a way, I am very excited that I will be even busier than I have been for the past few weeks with my internship. But I am also very scared because this is my last semester at college and I don’t want my grades to suffer. I knew that this semester was going to be very hectic, but I also knew this might be the last chance I have to do this internship. I am taking 18 units of classes plus 20 hours of internship. I will definitely keep you all updated in regards to my sanity throughout the semester.
Hatred. The dictionary defines it as; intense dislike or extreme aversion or hostility. It is a word that we are told not to use as children. Although it is a feeling we constantly experience, as adults we are expected to suppress it and move on with our lives. In a world where political power is often measured by military strength, hatred can become an avid part of our lives, whether we like it or not.
There are countless reasons as to why people hate each other. In my personal experience I have been hated for being Armenian, for being “too opinionated” and for many other reasons. As a child, I was taught by my parents to ignore it; however, the “opinionated” side of me instinctively wants to retaliate, especially when it is hatred towards my heritage.
As I grew older, I learned to develop my own way of dealing with other people’s negativity. One thing that has helped me is constantly remembering a quote by Winston Churchill which reads, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Remembering this important message, I try to channel my negative feelings towards hatred and use them as a strengthening mechanism. No matter what anyone says at the end of the day, when I look in the mirror, I want to feel good about myself regardless of other people’s opinions.
The reason I chose to write this blog entry about hared is because, last week, my fellow intern’s post was met with a great deal of negative; as well as, positive criticism from the Armenian public. Although some of the hate mail was pointless, some hit home as well. I saw in front of my eyes how simple words can potentially affect someone’s life. I may be young and relatively naive, but I always assumed that since we Armenians are a minority, we should try our hardest to stick together. Instead of putting up barriers within our own culture. The majority of American Armenians that were not born here and immigrated, did so in order to seek a better education and overall live better lives with our families. However, I do not see the point in taking this hard step if we do no use all the things America has taught us for the betterment of ourselves and our culture. I chose to do this internship because I believe that it will help me not only connect with my culture, but also learn how to stand unified with fellow Armenians. We need to stand united as a people in order to have one STRONG voice throughout the world.
Although hatred will never be fully diminished, we can try to lessen to the best of our abilities. Every person is entitled to his or her own opinion. Disagreements or differing points of views are not valid excuses to hate someone. We are supposed to be a civilized society and yet every chance people get they are inclined to hatefully lash out instead of living and letting others live as well.
My grandfather once explained the laws of supply and demand to me. He had been a businessman, excelling in many different trades with an old world business sense that cannot be taught in a classroom. When I was seven, maybe eight years old, I walked into my grandparents’ living room and saw my grandfather seated with his chin tipped down onto his chest, quietly weeping. I called his name, but he didn’t respond—he was somewhere else. I looked over my shoulder at the television and was confronted for the first time with those black and white images fading on and off the screen: emaciated children, stacked human heads, naked leather-and-bone corpses with limbs bent at odd angles. I would grow up to memorize these images and their significance as they reappeared once a year at school assemblies, protests, and lectures.
But at that age, I could not understand why these frightening stills made my grandfather break down. My grandfather: a man who exerted more energy than I did at my Saturday morning soccer games and cheerfully flexed a bicep and insisted that I hold on and let my 65 pound body swing off the ground. I asked him not to cry.
I followed him out of the living room, into the brown-carpeted dining area. Sitting at the glass and iron table, the kind which so many Armenian families seem to have a penchant for, he told me that he was born in Gesaria and that meant business is in his blood—the same blood that runs through me. He pulled grapefruits and oranges out of the tabletop bowl and used them as props in his lecture. He explained a few principles of business and economics and seemed pleased with my ability to understand. I, in turn, was pleased with my ability to distract my grandfather from his emotional turmoil.
When my father picked me up that evening and asked how I had behaved, my grandfather told him that he was very proud of me—I’m expected to excel in business one day. While that afternoon didn’t set me on the path toward thriving as a businessperson, it was the first moment when my Armenian identity began to take shape. I also learned that there are elements of our story that can make grown men cry.
This is the first of many blogs I will be writing for ANCA-WR as an intern. It is the first week of the internship and we have six months to go. I am very excited to be here and to get started.
I moved to America at the age of seven with my mother. She then started the process of making us permanent residents and eventually citizens. My mother became a citizen two years ago when I turned 18. This meant that I had to apply on my own. A few days ago on January 4, I became a citizen of the United States. It has been a very long journey of 11 years, but I can now vote. I have been anxiously waiting to have the ability to participate in elections ever since I took an elective law class in the 8th grade. I am excited about going to jury duty, which is something people constantly make fun of me about. In high school, my class had an internship at the Van Nuys Courthouse. We would sit in on trials and observed how the judges would conduct them. I knew then, that that was the kind of profession I wanted to pursue and knew I had to be a citizen for it to be possible.
Another reason I am very enthusiastic about my citizenship is that I can now go to Armenia. I have not been there since I left to come to America. I have many relatives there; however, one of the main reasons I want to go is because I no longer remember it. I would like to stay there for a summer and experience it once again. I have fond childhood memories of tourists coming from America and bringing us presents. I obviously loved the gracious presents but loved visiting the sites of my homeland with them even more. Now, as an adult, I am very excited about re-visiting the same sites, the churches, Sevan, the museums and much more. This time around, I would also like to experience Nagorno-Karabakh as well because I never had the chance to visit it as a child. In my opinion, this trip would benefit me so much more than staying in Los Angeles for another summer. I will miss my friends and family here; however, I think re-visiting my homeland will help make me a stronger Armenian.
I pull up next to a car on Glenoaks. I see two beautiful Armenian girls. Sounds typical right? Here’s the catch. My car is not a Mercedes or a BMW. In fact it’s a big blue Toyota FJ Truck. While these girls looked like models from Europe, I was wearing my AC/DC t-shirt, while sporting a Mohawk. However there was something very familiar to Glenoaks popping off from the sound system. Yes, you guessed it; it was Armenian music more common to a wedding or a bazaar than to a rock band. The girls almost had this shocked look on their face. I thought it was because I was not attractive enough to them. Obviously that was not the case. They rolled down their window and asked “ARE YOU ARMENIAN!?!?!?” I replied in Armenian, exchanging some compliments. That day was a success for me. Yes, I got their numbers. No, I will not give you their identities. It demonstrated how I am really American, and really Armenian at the same time.
I was born in California. I live in a place that encourages community diversity and places their pride on cultural blending. Some may argue this is what makes California unique from other places in the United States. A heterogeneous culture allows you to interact with and foster tolerance for many other races that live around you. However, I live in Glendale, California. This part of the world is specifically known for its proud ethnic tradition geared towards being Armenian.
Armenian-Americans are known for their love of the United States, all of its institutions, and have flourished in this great nation on tried-and-tested Armenian values. Family, hard work, civic activity and a sense of community have helped Armenians reach great heights in the United States. For me, this is a matter of great pride. I famously keep a copy of the US constitution in my back pocket, and at the same time hang the Armenian cross around my neck, with the blue eye to keep the evil spirits away.
At the same time, people ask me sometimes, “Why don’t you act more American?” Act? I didn’t know being American was a role in a movie. For me being American isn’t acting American. The same is true with my Armenian friends telling me to act less American and more Armenian. The point is that being one or the other is not mutually exclusive. You do not switch from the American hat to the Armenian hat when the time is right. It is a matter of being both at the same time.
My teacher at Pilibos, Baron Garbis, told me a long time ago. He said, “Son, you have to be 100% American and 100% Armenian.” This taught me how to stay civically engaged in the American arena, while keeping my Armenian spirit alive in my very American way of life. Now I know this might seem like the usual Armenian-American spiel, but I am a living testament to this. So if you see me at an Armenian wedding head-banging to Slayer in the parking lot, while wearing a suit, it is completely normal behavior.