Carlos Matallana: Curiosity & Joy

IL Latino News


After-school programs offer mentoring and positive role models for youth.

Besides academic support, after-school programs offer a wide range of enrichment activities that promote the holistic development of youth. From sports and arts to music and drama, these programs allow young people to explore their interests and talents outside the traditional classroom setting. 

Exposure to different activities can broaden their perspectives, improve their social skills, and foster a sense of belonging within a community.

Carlos Matallana, the Founder and Developer Blok by Blok Podcast, Club Chicago, a youth-led podcast club, was a guest on the program “3 Questions With…” hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

Programs like Blok by Blok play a crucial role in providing youth with a safe and supportive environment to express their views about the world -perspectives often discounted by adults. “We are teaching them and giving them the tools to develop their own stories,” said Matallana.

Among the topics the programs tackle are crime and public safety. “We are in our seventh season, and it’s been there constantly; how they fear about their safety,” explained Matallana about a common theme of the podcasts. “Just walking from home to school and getting back safe is a first concern.”

To listen to the podcasts, click HERE.

Matallana was a cohort in the Latino Policy Forum sponsored Multicultural Leadership Academy (MLA). “Black and Brown communities, we face similar challenges and values. I was able to identify three (values),” he remembered. “Family, food, and flow. I think those three elements are key for us individuals who want to create and promote change.” Every year, the MLA program brings together Black and Latino community leaders who together work to build cross-cultural understanding and cooperation.

A native of Colombia, Matallana said his mother encouraged his interest and other passion (besides education): art. An illustrator, he says, “Comics conveys my working experience, passion for inking and research in complex issues such as Violence, Urbanism, Financial, Housing and Art which motivates me to question my position as a father, educator, and artist, then challenge the audience to reflect about their role in a complex-rich urban society as Chicago.”

It’s that type of focus Matallana unveils in “Brea,” the first fictional installment in the Manual of Violence project series. An abstract illustrated story, “Brea” follows two canny kids grappling with a magical and terrible heaviness around them in the wake of their school’s closure. The narrative is based on Matallana’s ongoing conversations about violence with young children.

“Brea” is Spanish for tar or pitch.

Brea is the first fictional installment in the Manual of Violence project series.
(Photo Credit: Sixty Inches From Center)

In an interview with Sixty Inches From Center, Matallana shared how he used dream sequences to unfold the perspective of children and their relationships. “I write down my dreams, and I keep track of them, and I understand, somehow, how they affect my decisions. But at the same time, they are my own dreams. I don’t hope for anybody to understand those dynamics. But that’s the same way I’m trying to do it here. I’m trying to imagine the character’s own dreams, how they imagine their own dreams. So it’s like there’s reality, which is very stoic and cold, and then dreams, which aren’t either happy or sad; they’re usually just bizarre and awkward,” he said.

“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN) and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community-centric news, hyperlocal stories, and educational resources.

You can support stories like this one by donating to IL Latino News, HERE.

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