I Am Los Angeles: The Art of Being Earnest

I Am Los Angeles is a video portrait series created by journalist and filmmaker Joris Debeij, showcasing the unique people and their ideas that make L.A. what it is. KCET Departures will be featuring these videos as part of our continuing coverage of the shifting cultures of Los Angeles.

It was "the best of both worlds" for young Ernesto. A child of Mexican heritage, Ernesto grew up in El Centro, CA, a small town near the Mexico-US border. El Centro, with its proximity to Mexico and the immigrant culture, helped Ernesto develop an appreciation for the challenges faced by his fellow Mexicans. In El Centro, Ernesto felt safe and had the wealth of resources one has in America, but he also had access to his own rich cultural heritage by being so close to Mexico.

From this experience, Ernesto formed his image on the world, and today his energy is spent bringing his perspective to new audiences. Ernesto relocated from El Centro to Los Angeles to expand his activities as an politically-orientated art activist. Los Angeles and its many people from all over the world have taught Ernesto even more about his Mexico. People come to the L.A. looking for a better life and they infuse the area with their varying cultures, some of which are rarely seen in El Centro and just across the border in Mexicali. Ernesto easily conveys his beliefs to you, stating simply that he is "in solidarity with any movement that stands for self determination."

Ernesto is now leaving Los Angeles for now, partially so that he can be closer to his cause. You might recognize his work from the pro-immigration marches and demonstrations in Arizona, which were organized in opposition to the strict immigration laws in that state. "Borders are the cause of a lot of issues on this continent," says Ernesto.

Originally published on I Am Los Angeles, 2012.

Check out more video portraits at I Am Los Angeles.