My great escape

East L.A. is the community I was brought up in for the majority of my life. My family has never strayed too far from the borders of East L.A. As far as I know, three generations of my family have settled and made a living in this community. I never believed I had pride for my community until the unsettling things about East L.A. are brought up and I’d reluctantly agree, but I’d also mention the positive qualities about it. East L.A. is said to be a community of Latinos, gang violence, disrespectful youth, and a bunch of good for nothing drop-outs. Although that is partially true, I believe there is good in everything, and I have seen the friendly nature of the people who wave good morning, kiss hello, and help one another in times of need.

I have grown used to the familiar faces of Latinos, and I have noticed that whenever I leave East L.A. there’s a change in ethnicity. It’s a little unsettling at first, and I find myself wondering if I can belong to such a different community. People here have grown up with each other and know one another as their neighbors, cousins, friends, and family. They bond over football and soccer games and host religious celebrations for one another; that’s just a few examples out of many. I consider this to be a wonderful characteristic about the community. There is also tagging and graffiti which can be seen in a negative way, but in some of that graffiti is art. What some may consider juvenile, I consider meaningful because like most art, it tells a story and has its own style. If I could say anything about my community I’d say that even though East L.A. may sometimes be seen as a bad place, it is probably because people are looking at it from the wrong perspective. I’d suggest they look at it in a different light.

My community has provided me many opportunities, such as offering me jobs that best suit me and my schedule. I used to go to church in the community, which was very convenient for my family because it was right on the opposite side of the street. When I was younger, the church provided services for the community’s children, so my siblings and I attended the summer programs. I got to get out of the house, which was a great relief for my younger self. Another way the community has helped me is through its public library. I often used it to get away from my screaming, mental, big, crazy family or because I was lonely. To be locked in a small apartment with 9 kids and a mental mother would make anyone crazy, so sometimes I needed to get away. The library was mine for multiple reasons. It was quiet and peaceful for the most part, and I always felt safe, but the best part was the reading. I would go into every world that the authors created for their readers. My experience with reading has always been quite great, where my ears seemed to block any noise from coming in and this buzzing kind of feeling would come over me so I could no longer feel the reality of the world. I could no longer see the words on the page because I was seeing the story play out in images. The library was the only place that I could have enough peace to experience such things, and I took advantage of using it as my great escape.

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