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Each year, 826LA partners with one Los Angeles public school for the Young Authors’ Book Project (YABP). Volunteers work with students for seven weeks to write pieces around a central theme. In collaboration with students from Alain LeRoy Locke High School, the 2017 YABP publication, When the Moon Is Up, contains stories from young people in South LA, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the 1992 LA Uprisings. The book’s 61 student authors depict the modern lives of youth in stories about responsibility, family, loss, courage, and favorite pairs of sneakers.
Yulitza’s “Life Is More Real Than We See”
I’m from México. Guerrero state is a place with many beaches, coconuts, sun, and sand. Now in the United States, I’m a student in high school. I saw many bad and good things in my country. Something important that I noticed was that people hate each other and envy other people; they are unhappy. That is happening in all the world with all people. Many economic and social troubles exist in society. México is a country that is described with violence because people take justice into their own hands, and that happens because the government doesn’t do anything. The police in my community didn’t help anyone.
“México is a country that is described with violence because people take justice into their own hands, and that happens because the government doesn’t do anything.”
My mother’s brother was a police officer. One day he and other cops were eating in a restaurant when some men with guns and dressed in black clothes attacked my uncle and other police. Nobody could do anything. I still don’t understand how that happened because it was impossible; the police can’t take them. It is a little town in the middle of the road that has just one exit. In the instant when they took my uncle, they killed him, and we got a call that the police found his body. It was a painful day for all of us. I miss him so much. It is sad because he left three little sons. I don’t think my uncle was doing bad things, but it’s that just people hate the police and if the police don’t do what they want, those people take them and take their lives. All people in my town were not scared of the police. They were scared of those bad men dressed in black. I felt insecure. I was afraid that something could happen to my father and my brothers when they went outside. I felt afraid and I was worried that they wouldn’t be back.
“I was afraid that something could happen to my father and my brothers when they went outside. I felt afraid and I was worried that they wouldn’t be back.”
I think the police are not a kind of security for the community. I saw there too was the division between people. People who have the most resources at all times want to feel better than others. It is so sad to see this thing. I have seen people oppressed just for how they look and for the fact that they are so poor, but it is not the most important thing.
There were many deaths. I can remember one day when I was present where people were shouting, and people running and screaming, and I remember dead people in the road bleeding. The police never did anything. The town thought they were in agreement with those bad people. People felt they had the power to do whatever they wanted; if they hated someone or someone did something bad or just said bad things about somebody, they just thought to kill those people. There isn’t respect. I want to say, too, that these bad people are like gangs. They take money from poor people who have a business, and this is unfair for the society.
“I have seen people oppressed just for how they look and for the fact that they are so poor…”
When I was living there, we couldn’t go out when we wanted because these people were in the street and we were scared. Things seem normal for people because they think this is not going to change. We have never seen anything different, through generations it’s always the same. It is incredible to see those innocent people; they can’t fight for their right to proclaim justice. My past was hard but good in some way because we had our own house; that is, we didn’t have to pay rent. I didn’t have all things that I wanted, but I had what was necessary to live. I was living in a little isolated town; there was no communication, we went to one school, and we needed to get out for food. In my own experience, I was scared to talk with people and I didn’t trust anyone. I didn’t know anything about what we should do. Kids are not supposed to worry about those things, but for me it was so difficult to go to school because we didn’t have enough money and there was no work for people.
“Kids are not supposed to worry about those things, but for me it was so difficult to go to school because we didn’t have enough money and there was no work for people.”
Now I can say God has been good with me and my family. In the United States, I can get a job and support my parents. Many people say that the United States is a good place—you can get money so easily and that there is a better life. When I came here, it was totally different. Some things that happen to immigrants have internal effects on them. If you don’t know English, you can’t get a good job and they pay you less. That money isn’t enough for yourself because you have to pay rent, you have to pay transportation, and you need documents for everything, even to go the doctor. Sincerely, it is a frustrating life. The majority of Mexican people come to work. Teenagers start to work and lose the opportunity of education. In my situation, it is difficult because I have to work and study at the same time. Sometimes I can’t concentrate on one thing. I see young people who have the opportunity just to study, and they don’t value that. I’m worried and I’m scared to not have the opportunity to study, and I won’t have enough money to pay the university.
“In the United States…The majority of Mexican people come to work. Teenagers start to work and lose the opportunity of education.”
The United States has a new president who doesn’t want immigrants in this country. I’m a student and an immigrant. It is unfair many students like me lose their dreams and are deported or can’t get documents. I live in LA where the majority of people are Latino and people of color. The mornings in The Nickerson Gardens pass so fast with people going to work every day, and children going to school. I don’t have friends in my neighborhood and don’t talk with anyone. There are Mexican people too, and my neighbors are people of color. I think they don’t like us. I heard one time when they were talking between themselves and they said, “I hate Mexican people,” and I thought, “What did Mexicans do to those people for the perspective that they have of us?” In Los Angeles sometimes I feel unsafe when I walk to school and go to my job because people are so aggressive; but bad people are in all places.
“I want to help my people. I want to study law to one day make this world different…”
The most important thing for me is to be someone in this life. No matter what obstacles will be, nothing is impossible for someone who really wants to make something—to arrive at the end of a career. I have learned new things in this life, which teach me to never give up give the hope that nothing is impossible. The Bible teaches me I’m an important person in this world and that God is always with me, and he will support me and strengths me in each moment. I trust in him, in the person who created all things that exist in this world. I hope to continue with my goals and my dreams, I hope to return to my country again. It is there where I am all that I am. I want to help my people. I want to study law to one day make this world different and help people who need the support of someone.
About the Author
Yulitza was born in Guerrero, México, and immigrated to the United States in 2015. She likes to study, go to church, and believes in human rights. The most important thing for her is to be with family. She hopes one day to travel and know all the world.