East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Profile: Maria, the street vendor

Maria is one of the many street vendors in my community. I interviewed her as my local East L.A. celebrity. She was very apprehensive throughout the interview, quiet and vague when answering questions. This is understandable considering the authorities can be a hassle and make street vending an unnerving job. Like most street vendors, Maria is operating illegally on the streets of East L.A. to make a bearable living for herself and her family. Her story was like most I’ve heard before from other street vendors. Maria is an immigrant from Puebla, Mexico and migrated to the states for a chance at a better life and a chance to live the “American Dream.”

Maria may not know it, but she contributes greatly to the character of East L.A. Only in East L.A. will you see street vendors with schedules for selling traditional Mexican foods: tamales and champurrado in the mornings and elotes, raspados, and fritangas in the evenings. She, like many others, represents the culture of the people who reside within the community through their common backgrounds, the foods they choose to sell, and the religion they share. I believe that is what makes people like Maria local celebrities, because she represents the majority of the people and is able to give them a little piece of home on the streets of East L.A.

Maria is also a unique character because she is an independent woman doing what she needs to do for her family, brave enough to start her own business with nothing to rely on. I am just glad she mentioned that she enjoyed being her own boss and being happy to interact with her customers on a daily basis. I also find her determination to keep her family above water inspiring and motivational, making her a great choice as a local celebrity. She is a great representative for the people of East L.A., the hardworking people in the community with strong values and good intentions, unlike the misinformed outsiders who know little to nothing about the real East L.A. People like Maria create a unique community that you will not find any place else.