East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

The power of a community

People don’t really think too much about their community, but one thing to consider or to keep in mind is that the concept of community is powerful. By powerful, meaning the ability to influence your life, in a positive or negative way. This may lead you to do great things or do the worst of your life.

I say this because in my case, I live in East Los Angeles and close to Boyle Heights. Like any city, there is the positive/negative or some pros/cons. Some of the pros include great people– heavily Latino, whom the majority are friendly and pleasant, the amazing food, mostly Mexican or South American foods, such as the tacos stands in almost every corner, the churro man with his signature whistle ” Ya llego los churriiiiitos,” restaurants selling pupusas filled with melted cheese and beans, and other restaurants that when you pass by; the smell of food consumes your nostrils and makes your mouth water a little.

East L.A. also has a lot of places to visit such as El Mercadito, which translates to “little market.” Ironically, El Mercadito is not a little market, but a huge building filled with different stands that sell herbs, food, Mexican treats, music, dancing, and other things related to the Latin culture.

Through all the beauty of the city, it also has its dark side, notoriously known for its gang activities: the tagging on the wall with big crazy letters, symbolizing the claim of the area by the particular gang, the gunshots that can be heard in the quiet skies, usually during the night, and the big guys, their arms all tatted, with a bald haircut, wearing their usual white, gray shirts and baggy dickies black pant, roaming the streets with their chins up and maybe attempting to establish dominance to others that pass by.

Throughout the recent years, gang activities have decrease but some are still around.  And the people’s fear is still there. Stepping into the wrong street or in the wrong area may lead into trouble.

Being exposed to this made me realize how powerful a community is. In East L.A., the people have two choices: you either go through the right path, which is to not be gang affiliated in any way, or the wrong path, which is to become a gang member and follow the gang lifestyle. Going through the wrong path may lead to possible drugs usage, which may lead to drug addiction and possible trouble with the law. All these possible outcomes may cause misery for yourself and for your family, sadness, and confusion.

Going through the right path may lead to a possible good life, possibly drug-free, less chance of being in trouble with the law. It ultimately leads to happiness, peacefulness, and guilt-free.