East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

The promised land

I have lived in East L.A. my whole life. What brought me to this city would be my parents, since where I live now is on the same block where they grew up. I live in the house behind the one my mother grew up in. Every time I ask my mom how the neighborhood was before she’ll tell me it’s the same, little has changed. Before, kids were able to play in the streets. The guys played football while the girls played with their dolls or bikes. All the parents got along because they knew every kid from the block. There are many stories about my block–funny ones and sad ones. One that you’ll always hear and will never forget is the story about two brothers. They called the second oldest child “Buffo,”  who was, and still is, one of my uncle’s best friends to this day. He had an older brother who was in a gang. My grandmother told my uncles not to be friends with him because he just brings trouble. One day my grandmother got into an argument with the kid’s mother. She was telling my grandmother not to say those things about him. A few days later the youngest child goes to a store. When he comes out, a gang comes and shoots him. But it wasn’t meant for him, they shot him because he looked so much like his oldest brother. Days later, the oldest brother died, overdosing on heroin and meth because he couldn’t live with himself.

Now we don’t get that here that often. We still get neighbors dying like during the summer of 2015 when my neighbor died on drugs too, but he wasn’t alone. Nobody really knew the lady he was living with, but my neighbor didn’t want to live anymore and neither did the lady, so they both took a pill. Only the guy died, not the lady. I really don’t know more about what happened or know my neighbor. Yeah, there was time I would talk to him, but I never asked him about his life. Another death would be the father of the two sons who died. He died of old age because he loved to drink a lot of beer. He and my grandfather drank everyday. My grandfather stopped ever since his death. I have known him since I was small. My parents bought their first house in the back house of him and his wife. My brother was also born in that house too. That’s another story everyone knows too, about closing down the whole street when my brother was being born in the house. Everyone came out of our their house to see what was going on. One of the women that was there took my brother out and did that scene from “The Lion King” when the monkey picks up the lion club. Yeah, I know it sounds weird but that really did happen.

Every time I hear East L.A. I think about all the great food, bad driving, the promised land and much more. The reason why I say the promised land is because it’s the reason why my grandfather and great grandparents came here. They always heard stories about coming here, that they could have their own house and all the money they want. But, that didn’t happen. They both had to work their butts off to get a house and get paid good money. The good thing that I like about East L.A. is the marvelous places to eat. I just love food of any kind. That’s what makes East L.A. so unique. You won’t find any of the food we got here anywhere else.

I won’t say East Los Angeles is the best place to live, but it’s a place to start. To me, I always grew up thinking East L.A. was a place to move out from. Why? Because there’s nothing good about living in East L.A . Where I live, sometimes you see a lot of homeless people living here, not a lot like downtown, but a few. It really sucks seeing them sleeping at the bus bench or on the floor. I hate seeing people just walk by them like there’s nothing there. They could at least give them some coins or something. Instead of buying something dumb at the liquor stores that are at every corner or something else. East L.A. isn’t the safest place to live. There have been a lot of kidnappings in the past years and also deaths by gangs or car crashes. That’s why in my household my parents rarely let me out because they know about what happens here. I don’t blame them. I’ll be the same way if I had kids of my own and knew everything that happens in the streets. I’ll rather have them safe than thinking something bad will happen to them and see it on the news. Well, so far nothing has happen to me and I take the bus or walk home, so East L.A. hasn’t done me bad.

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