by Wil’ Prada
Meet Izel, a homeless youth poet from Boyle Heights who builds a telescope and shares his fascination with the universe.
March 08, 2017
We made this film to remind the world that the troubled single-parent Mayan kid wandering the streets whose ancestor calculated the solar eclipse this year could be the next great scientist. And we need to build a world that allows them to be.
Izel is not your typical sky gazer. He is a homeless brown teenager bound by his socioeconomic realities, yet his curiosity leads him to peace and wonder through a telescope he builds. He shares this fascination with his peers.
The realities of our marginalized youth of color are harsh. Izel is outwardly strong because he has to be. At 16 he’s already faced all sorts of obstacles. In the eyes of the average colonized mind he is seen as a criminal. Short hair, large clothing, and heavy melanin. The school doesn’t speak to him, it speaks of “great” white founders, and other concepts that don’t relate to his struggles at all. Curriculums don’t speak to him about how to deal with the drug abuse he witnesses or how to have hope in the abyss of poverty. For a person like him, the capitalistic mentality is dangerous because it could easily lead to the prison pipeline. To sell drugs or be a rapper often seem to be the only options. He lacks more privileged networks.
The universe is a safe haven for Izel’s imagination, dreams, and aspirations. To become an astronaut and find new life forms. To visit star systems his ancestors used to study. He could engineer a portal to another universe. The possibilities are literally endless. The universe frees him of his mundane reality. He realizes he’s part of something bigger. Being built from stars means he’s more than his current conditions and temporal form.
Yet the “intelligent” life on this planet has stacked up so much against him already. It’s not that “this world was not meant for him”, as he writes in his poem, but that we are not building this world for him. Generations of bright minds continue to wane out insignificantly rather than reaching their potential to shine with supernovae proportions.
Wil’ Prada is an undocumented filmmaker and astronomy enthusiast. You can follow much of his film work through one of his collectives: @Undeportables