Cholo Style

root - Posted on 01 January 2000

by Angel Garcia

My name is Angel Garcia, a.k.a. Sad Boy, a former gang-banger from the San Francisco Mission District and staff writer for POOR Magazine/Prensa Pobre, who is dealing with my own poverty, racism and disability struggle.

On April 17, 2009, I had the pleasure of attending an amazing prison art exhibit presented by Cholo Style, called Homeboys Behind Barsa at the Pier 5 Law Offices in San Francisco. It was also a book release of Cholo Style, Homies, Homegirls and La Raza by Cholo Style and Mi Vida Loca Magazine author Reynaldo Berrios.

That night, I interviewed Reynaldo about his book. When I introduced myself, he looked at me and asked me where I was from. It was weird, because I felt like he wanted to know which barrio I was from. It is important in this culture for one another to know where you represent from. I told him that I was from Guatemala and grew up in San Francisco. He quietly nodded and respectfully acknowledged me, though I know he probably saw my tattoos.

During the interview, there was a connection with the things he was doing in writing the book and having the art exhibit. As the interview continued, I asked him what were his motivations and what got him into writing a book about the cholo culture. He said that he was tired of us fighting against each other, that he had been stabbed a couple times and was close to dying. He said that he just wanted la raza to unite and fight for something that was worth it. To me, as a former gang-banger from the Mission, hearing those words was an inspiration for me to keep going in a positive direction with my own life.

He said that he went around the barrios and prisons putting together artwork, photos and written stories by homies from all over. This is when a publishing company approached him and asked him to put a book together and he told them that he could and he did. He wanted to publish a book from this, so that he could give back to his community through its sales while at the same time, educating people about cholo life and culture.

Also in the interview, Reynaldo gave me wisdom that I had not heard in a long time. Due to the fact that as I am a little older now and with all of the things that I went through, I also have the same dreams about getting us all united, going back to school to get educated, instead of hating on each other.

I think that fighting with a pen and putting our thoughts on paper will get us farther than fighting on the streets against one other. I also think about all of the younger generations that I leaving behind and how they could be lawyers, teachers, writers or whatever they want to be in their lives. But to get there, they have to listen to positive words, be given true inspiration and encouragement while reading insightful literature and real life scholarship coming from o.g. homies like Reynaldo Berrios.


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