Not the outcasts

Growing up in East Los Angeles hasn’t always been the best thing in the world. Since I’m a baseball player I’ve traveled a lot. Whenever we play in another city, people always see us as outcasts. Other teams always give us a look of disgust when we tell them we are from East Los Angeles. When we say that, people automatically think of movies showing gang members, people being killed, drug addicts and bad Hispanic people living in a ghetto community.

I’ve lived in this neighborhood, in the same house, since I was born 17 years ago. I know the ins and outs of East L.A. Growing up here has really showed and offered me a lot. As a kid I’ve always loved going to the park and other attractions. East Los Angeles offers parks that aren’t too bad. They have enough things for family or friends to hang or have a “Carne asada,” as we say. Many parents and kids look forward to the recreational leagues the parks offer. The activities include playing basketball, baseball, soccer, or football. These opportunities encouraged me to participate in baseball, where I’ve met a lot of different people in the community. These events and opportunities are open to all kids, encouraging them to stay busy and active.

The community is very accepting of all kinds of people. From my point of view, I would say that a lot of people don’t discriminate and welcome all races. I like talking to people about their different cultures, traditions and places they come from. I enjoy hearing stories about people’s hometowns and comparing them to my own. Being in East L.A., I’m most proud of the inclusion we have in the community. I can’t say that no one is racist here, but I think it’s a community that accepts people and doesn’t judge as much as other communities.

I remember when I was about 10 years old or so, I lived on Gage Avenue up in City Terrace. For a few years I was frightened that there would constantly be drive-bys by my house since my neighbors were involved in gangs. This had me terrified to be outside late at night. I remember multiple times hearing the bullets hit the wall outside my house, stuff getting ruined, and people yelling in pain. I would walk outside my house and see blood all over the cement.

Over the years it has improved dramatically to the point I feel safe being outside my house late at night, and not worrying about getting shot up and ending up dead. My parents came from Mexico, specifically San Jerónimo in Puebla. They moved into East L.A. knowing there would be some ups and downs and stuck through it. At first they were scared because of the stories people told them about people being murdered and drugs being a problem. Living here over the years has made us stronger. Most people that have been here most of their lives have come to realize that East L.A. is their hometown and appreciate it for what it is.

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