Yesterday, a group of us met with a local TV station to discuss their coverage of the demolition of a historic neighborhood in my city that would result in the displacement of a long-time and close-knit community, mostly elders. Three of us, community organizers and historians, accompanied four women from the barrio. They were from their fifties to their eighties. The women were eloquent, witty, and incredible fountains of knowledge about la frontera.
Doña Carmen in front of the Civic Center protesting for the right to remain in her home, 2006.
Señora Lupe at a meeting to defend El Segundo Barrio, 2006.
Margarita speaking on behalf of her small business, 2006.
As I enter my elderhood, these women are my guides, my heroes. They have raised generations of children. They have worked long hours inside and outside their homes. Their work has built this city. They have spoken in defense of their homes and their communities. I've seen them work an 8 hour day and then walk miles to their second job. I've seen them go house to house to talk to neighbors, organizing the neighborhood. I've listened to the stories of how they have spent years making their barrios safe and tranquil places to live. And they can still tell a joke and dance and laugh. They have hope and they take action.
No, Mr. TV Station Man. We are not cute. We are fierce.
Doña Toñita, la abuela del barrio.
Photographs courtesy of Lucia Martinez and Paso del Sur. Thanks to Zeke Peña and Los Dos for use of the Duranguito poster.