Her glistening eyes twinkled with indigenous features maybe from grandpa or tita


admin_general - Posted on 21 December 2021

By Momii Palapaz/PNN Poverty Skola

“Born and raised”, Lori proudly announced her birth and life in San Francisco’s (SF) Mission district.  There was a somber tone from Lori’s voice as she responded to questions about her family moving out of the City.   The sun shone through the window blinds on her light brown hair wrapped tightly in a bun.  It gave a glow to her skin as she sat comfortably in her cotton olive green pants and colorful cotton top. 

 

We, us students of writing revolutionary media, all sat in the computer room interviewing and writing profiles.  On the couch, Akil and Amir sat beside the aquarium. Its’  heat lamp warmed the home of a pet reptile, Dino. Somewhere nearby, a motor hummed low.  The sun brightened the space under an array of wires hooked to tech devices surrounding us.  We all laid back attempting to capture the heart of each other’s stories.

 

After I just met Lori with a short introduction,  I asked her, “what is your cultural background?”  Lori replied, “I am Hawaiian Mexican, born in SF. I am a first generation mainlander. “  As a child, she recognized her “mixed race” as something of confusion and curiosity or what it meant to be.  Her glistening eyes twinkled with indigenous features maybe from grandpa or tita. Behind the mask, her eyes said at once her Pacific Islander roots and of Mexico.  

 

Back in the 80’s, Lori grew up “grounded” living with her family and grandparents until six years old.  She enjoyed hanging out at the local comic book store, running errands for mom.  In the Oceanside neighborhood of SF, she spent time with grandparents in a community of Asians,  Blacks and European immigrant families.  When Lori and her family moved to Vallejo, she felt “weird” and  felt “so far away”.  Disconnected.   We were the “away nation”.  In Vallejo “there was Black and White, no in between.  WE were the melting pot. “  But the “country” atmosphere was an exciting transition and Lori became witness to structural development and military base shutdowns.  In 1991 there was a mass exodus of residents from the closure.  Diversity came with a bad reputation and the violence of crackdowns on the Vallejo Black and Brown communities of Kress exploded.  It was “hard to find identity”… I “went through many” and was removed from ” my culture”.  “You try to relate to something, looking for ways to fit in or feel belonging”

 

In contrast, the “Mission” was predominantly Latino.  Every year, Lori and her family would participate in Carnaval on a float dancing to music from “Bandido”, a relative’s band.  Traditionally, Carnaval was the European colonizers’ way of giving a “day off” to slaves in the Caribbean islands and in the Americas, coinciding with a settler religious holiday.  Centuries ago and up to this day, indigenous and descendents of kidnapped Africans plan throughout the year for this special occassion.  As Lori twirled down the street in a costume of her own making she joined millions parading down the street and has many cherished memories of times long gone. 

 

“We used to go to SF every weekend, then every month”, then occasionally.  “My ‘siblings’ were cool with it, but I missed my grandparents”.  Lori’s dad, a fireman, dropped her off at grandpa's and grandmas house every weekend before he went to his 48 hour shift.  Her family has since gone to other parts of u.s.a. 

 

Lori presently shares her home with her three sons, ages 20, 15 and 11. Lori will be a grandmother in a few months, again celebrating the birth and life in the Herrera familia.

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