EVERYTHING COMES FROM THE STREETS: Chicano Low Riders and Bioethics.

Last fall at the San Francisco Latino Film Festival there was a preview of the spectacular documentary, Everything Comes from the Streets. This film is an example of excellent programming on the part of that festival. This year the SF Latino Film Festival runs from September 12 - 22, 2014.

Everything Comes from the Streets is a documentary directed by Alberto Lopez Pulido and co-produced by Mr. Pulido, Kelly Whalen and Rigo Reyes.  It is a story about the significance of Low Riders in Chicano culture. A beautifully shot film, it carefully handles the struggle for identity and civil rights, particularly in the Chicano community. My interest in Low Rider Culture was re-ignited when it was used in the San Francisco based film La Mission (Bratt, 2009), which was the first film blogged on this website.

A Low Rider is both a car and the person who drives it. Low Riders, the cars, are rigged by the expertise of community developed mechanical physicists, operating under the cloak of local driveways and garages. Materials for the work historically come from salvage yards, not only deriving from cars, but the hydraulics of discarded airplanes. The rigging results in the rear of the car riding lower to the ground than the original factory specifications.  This aesthetic preference is also the restructuring that makes the car float, slowly down the roads, cruising on parade. This film illustrates why these vehicles need to be on parade. They are extraordinary pieces of artwork, expressing creative, cultural and engineering pride. There is more to this particular cultural icon than the cars themselves. 

Everything Comes from the Streets traces Low Riders from their roots in East Los Angeles and Espanola, New Mexico. The visual home of the film is San Diego County.  After the first Low Riders hit the streets in the 1950's, organizations began to spring up in support of them; the cars, the people who drove and their admirers.  These social "Car Clubs" developed structures that were also able to support community based social change. Additionally, the Low Rider movement had a specific contribution to Chicana feminism. By the 1970s, women, as well as men, were frequently involved in the same mechanics, redesign of their own vehicles for display, expression of creativity, pride, and organized community responsibilities. 

In the late 1970's, Chicano pride became a threat to the USA status quo. The film illustrated this reality in the San Diego area.  There, city ordinances were selectively enforced to prohibit Low Riders from Cruising and gathering audiences. This abuse of law violated the constitutional right of the Chicano community to peacefully assemble.  Collateral congestion and random legal offenses were inaccurately attributed to organized Car Club cruising. Low Rider Culture was misrepresented as synonymous with gang culture, particularly in the 1979 film, Boulevard Nights.  This representation fueled an even more skewed perception of Low Riders.

Disruption of under-resourced ethnic communities of color, under the guise of "urban renewal," was the norm in the 1960's and 1970's. Being organized, Car Clubs were logically part of community leadership that struggled, and still do struggle, against attempts to dilute Chicano identity and deny the community a geographic venue. With surprising good humor, Everything Comes from the Streets speaks to resisting oppression based on race and class. 

Why should Bioethicist care about Everything Comes from the Streets? The empirical Two Tiered Assessment of Shared Decisional Capacity reviews, Disclosure and Barriers to Disclosure during the process of informed consent, in medicine and clinical research. Clinicians should be aware of common barriers to shared decisional capacity. Examples of those barriers are: physical states including pain; psychological distress like grief, post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression/anxiety; educational differences (language and literacy) and patients’ perception of institutional chauvinisms. Institutional chauvinisms include the major "-isms."  Examples are ageism, sexism, genderism, classism, colonialism, professionalism and racism.  People tend to shut down communication and understanding when they recognize chauvinisms are being applied to them, with or without intention. 

Barriers to shared decisional capacity are barriers to good clinical medical ethical care of patients -- That's why Everything Comes from the Streets is important to Bioethicists. Once barriers are identified, clinicians can work to counter the negative effects.  In the case of institutional chauvinisms, clinicians demonstrating a commitment to learn about a person's family, spiritual needs, struggles and icons of culture, (FaSSI), may help to remove barriers to shared decisional capacity.   Born from the Chicano community, the film Everything Comes from the Streets is about family, spirit, struggle and cultural icons and can help improve goals of more ethical medical care.  

Everything Comes from the Street directed by Alberto Lopez Pulido (2014) http://everythingcomesfromthestreets.vhx.tv/watch (USA) 56min  

LA MISSION. 35 mm. Directed by Peter Bratt. USA. Screen Media Ventures. 2010 (117 min)

September Williams'  Bioethics Screen Reflections: LA MISSION : Prototype for the Peace Genre http://www.bioethicsscreenreflections.com/2010/05/la-mission-prototype-for-peace-genre.html?spref=tw

Regarding Shared Decisional Capacity, FaSSI and institutional chauvanisms see online: Williams, September.  Pain Disparity: Assessment and Traditional Medicine in THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PAIN MEDICINE Textbook on Patient Management. 2012 Deer, T.R.; Leong, M.S.; Buvanendran, A.; Gordin, V.; Kim, P.S.; Panchal, S.J.; Ray, A.L. (Eds.) Springer SBN 978-1-4614-1559-6