I lived in Pico Rivera with my mother and father. My mother discovered a job in East Los Angeles at the First Street Store, a landmark that was sold and is being turned into a charter school. My mom was having problems with my dad, and we ended up moving to an apartment in East L.A. It was just the two of us on our own when I was six years old. My childhood is something I will never forget. There were so many traumatic events I had to figure out on my own. I’m glad they occurred because now I know what to do in tough situations. It has made me a lot stronger. I think I was too young to experience violence, even if it was not directed towards me. I hate living in this apartment because you can hear everything the next door neighbors do. I believe the couple would get so drugged up they would fight. Then they pretended nothing happened the next day. How can people be so stupid? I would tell my mom. I always hear the girl crying and begging for help. I heard him push her towards the wall like they were moving a sofa around. He beat her with children present in the room. My mother and I got tired of it so we moved out as soon as possible.
If you were to grow up here in East L.A. you would realize that you can’t trust anyone. No one ever sugarcoats anything. Focus on yourself and everything will be just fine. I am sure that obstacles will come to others and they will have to overcome them. It is not easy, we all learn something. Even though East Los Angeles can be unsafe, what other place is not, right? Each city has people that want to make it look dangerous to live in without noticing it, like through littering or violence. We all have good and bad experiences now and then, but that is just part of life. We find a way to cope with the community and everything ends up like a routine.
The first word I think of when I hear East L.A. is Mexicans! Segregation is everywhere, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but mainly because people know each other and we tend to stay close! Festivals that are celebrated in East L.A. make us happy to attend and represent our united society. For example, on September 9 there is a Mexican Parade. No one wants to miss out. It’s free, and people always want to go. It also airs on TV. It is a very popular event. A mile and a half of streets are closed along Cesar E. Chavez that people have to walk through. Our community cheers for the celebrities that they admire or think make a difference. There are a lot of nice floats and cars. Sometimes cheerleaders come out and there are a lot of horses. I believe that I will want to leave East L.A. once I finish school and can get my own apartment somewhere around the area, maybe 30 minutes away. East Los Angeles has negative stereotypes because the same people that live in the community make fun of it publicly on social media. Others that have never been might think that is what it really is like.
East L.A. is also significant to my family because it unites us. All my family members visit my aunt’s house by Griffith Middle School. They all live in other cities. I’d say that East L.A has been a great place for us to bond and experience new adventures. I have been here almost 18 years and I still treasure living here. Although, a different neighborhood would not bother me at all. When I am on the freeway on my way back home, I see the sign that says East Los Angeles is four exits away. It brings a smile to my face. That is what I call home.