Traci Park Tokenizes Death of Chris "Spanto" Printup

spanto Born x raised


As if Traci Park’s white hegemonic tendencies weren’t concerning enough, she further demonstrated her insensitivity by tokenizing the untimely death of Venice’s own Chris Spanto Printup through her public eulogy.

Tokenism—often manifested as superficial inclusivity—creates a semblance of inclusivity and understanding without committing to genuine support or change. This practice is particularly gross because it exploits individuals or symbols to project social consciousness and representation while maintaining the status quo or, worse, advancing harmful policies that reinforce the homogenization of Venice.

Spanto wasn’t just a local Venice figure but an ambassador for Venice and Los Angeles culture through his streetwear brand, Born X Raised. The brand Born X Raised is centered in Venice Chicano culture and rooted in the struggle against gentrification, symbolizing resistance to the displacement, cultural dilution, and homogenization that Spanto saw consuming Venice. Traci Park couldn’t be further from the spirit and thesis of Born x Raised .


Spanto Endorsed Erin Darling

Notably, Spanto supported Erin Darling during the 2022 CD 11 council race. Erin Darling’s policies align more closely with community diversity preservation, are pro-renter, and address the root causes of the homeless crisis, contrasting sharply with Traci Park’s platform, which is laced with coded racism; anti-accountability policies for law enforcement; her staunch support for ineffective carceral-centric approaches to crime and homelessness, despite evidence showing these methods fail to address the root causes; and general anti-working class sentiments. 


Traci Park’s Superficial Support for Spanto

Traci Park’s public eulogy to Spanto ‘s death wreaked of insincerity. Her “blue MAGA” political ideology and the policies she supports starkly contrast to what Spanto stood for. Park seized this opportunity to polish her own image, exploiting his death rather than aligning with his beliefs. This approach is more about crafting a favorable image for herself in the community than truly supporting Spanto’s values.

Furthermore, Park’s attempts to appear supportive of Black and Brown communities are superficial at best. Most Black, Brown, and working-class residents of the Westside see her as problematic, and that’s putting it nice. The vast majority of her backers are gentry, and the few people of color who do support her often appear detached from the pressing issues that their respective communities face, aligning more with white, affluent social norms and interests.

By leveraging Spanto’s death for political gain, Park dishonors his legacy and misleads people about her true stance on the values and aspirations deeply held by most natives of Venice. She used Spanto’s eulogy as a platform to present herself as aligned with community concerns, while her actions tell a very different story.


Venice Needs Some Standards

The impact of such tokenism extends beyond insensitivity; it perpetuates a cycle where Venice’s Black and Brown communities see their culture paraded as symbols by politicians while those very same politicians’ actions negate their lived realities. This shallow approach devalues our communities’ genuine struggles and self-determination goals, replacing tangible gains with cosmetic nods.

As Venice faces the challenges of gentrification and an increasingly homogenized social and economic landscape, true Venetians must differentiate between real advocacy and superficial tokenism from politicians and local businesses. 

Seeing authentic Venice people and businesses share Traci Park’s eulogy of Spanto was sad, but not surprising, cheering it on without critique or disclaimer. I’m sure it’s primarily innocent ignorance, but we gotta do better my Venice relatives.

We must adopt some standards and boundaries and be more mindful of who and what we cosign when participating in events or accepting collaborations.  We make a mockery of all our displaced and fallen neighbors when, in one sentence, we’re admonishing gentrification and racism, but in the next, cheering on and co-signing the very people pushing the oppressive ideologies and policies.

Too often, Venice locals endorse individuals and businesses simply because they represent the Venice name and cultural brand. This shallow approach needs to change. We must look beyond superficial optics to understand the social and economic trojan horses these newcomers are implementing. Despite their cordiality, many undermine our community’s social and cultural integrity, sometimes subtly and increasingly blatantly.

Traci Park’s use of Spanto’s legacy as a political stepping stone without embracing his community and diversity-centered values should remind us of the vigilance we need to maintain to safeguard our authentic community interests.

In remembering Spanto, let it be more than just acknowledging his contributions; let it be a call to align with his outspoken spirit and a community notice to call out the tokenism and harmful fakers that usurp our Venice culture while undermining the social well-being of its culture bearers.

As Spanto would say. 

“Fuck these cornballs.”