The Past is Already Written, But Our Future is Not
Dear Future Self,
Have ten years passed already since I last wrote to you? Did you attend a private college or pursue the goals you have right now? I want you to know that if you ended up taking a different path in life instead of the one you had before, it is alright and if you are happy with what you became, I cannot complain. In what did you find success? As of right now, I want to become an author like Gloria Anzaldua who writes books about inequality, but I am pretty sure that my dream career may change…
Speaking of changing, how much has our community changed? Has Boyle Heights become wealthy like Beverly Hills? Did families get more opportunities to receive money? Right now I still want to be an author, but giving back to my community is something that I wish can come true. I think, by writing about the struggles and injustices working-class people of color face, it can change what people believe is acceptable and unacceptable and create a movement that will put a stop to discrimination.
I have lived in Boyle Heights since I was born, at the White Memorial Hospital [in] 2001 and I’ll probably still be living in Boyle Heights at least until I go off to a university. Are you living in Boyle Heights right now? Growing up in Boyle Heights wasn’t something necessarily bad but instead something great. For sure I wasn’t living the life of a movie star, but my community is something I always loved. I hardly ever get out of Boyle Heights, so I grew up to love it.
When people say Boyle Heights is just a poor place for Mexican families, I get a bit upset because this neighborhood is one of the most diverse communities with many cultures and backstories. The police sirens that I constantly hear and the helicopters flying above us flashing searchlights makes me know I am still in Boyle Heights. The thing about this neighborhood, is that even though it isn’t the most wealthy in money, it is wealthy by having a rich history of protests and events that created a movement towards equality which I take great pleasure in learning…
Heterosexism, ableism, patriarchy, racism and all the other -isms shouldn’t exist. When we divide ourselves, we set up these walls that could lead to conflict. Conflict later on leads to war and the hatred for one another grows. So if you, Luis, ever want to decrease this inequality that is everywhere, start off by making people forget these labels through your writing. With your writing, you can empower people in so many ways like it did to me. Reading the literature from others in Ethnic Studies really changed my point of view. Because really, what is the exact definition of race? What would you call someone that was born in Japan but is a descendant of Native Americans and spend his or her life in Italy learning its language, culture, etc.?
My dream of becoming an author can be the first step to a revolution that will be put in History textbooks of the future. Of course, it will be easier to just protest rather than take time composing a book, but a book will give me the impact I want. A protest will most likely lead to riot and violence, I don’t want violence and writing a book won’t make people punch each other in the middle of the road, at least I think. I said that as of now, I want to become an author, I want to write the things that we as people of color face in our lives…
Luis, you and your generation are going to become someone like Bell Hooks, MLK, Malcolm X, Gloria Anzaldua, Cesar Chavez and possibly start a group like the Brown Berets and the Black Panthers.
Your Past Self, Luis C.
Excerpts from 826LA In-Schools publication You Are My Roots: Letters on Resistance, Resilience, and Reimagination.
You Are My Roots: Letters on Resistance, Resilience, and Reimagination is a collection of reflective letters written by ninth grade Ethnic Studies students from Roosevelt High School in collaboration with 826LA’s In-Schools program. Inspired by Tupac Shakur’s “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” lyrics, these honest letters are a celebration of every rose in the process of making its way through the concrete. We hope that as you read these letters you too are inspired to plant your own garden.
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