Malditos – Myself included

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
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The 70’s in East L.A. was a confusing, dangerous and wonderful time.  War,  Santana, Cheech & Chong let you know who you were – a marijuana smoking, low rider driving, esse from the barrio projects. And then there was the esse’s vieja (old lady), with her plastered on make up.

Every American should have purchased stock in eyeliner pencils back then.  East L.A. alone would have made them  millionaires. This was also a time when Latinas were either whores, virgins or someone’s wife.  If you were a wife, odds were that you were being abused or neglected in some way, shape or form.

Violence was the norm. All kinds of violence were tailor-made for everybody. Boys pulled girls hair. Girls kicked boys in the crotch. Vatos backhanded their viejas, then had sex with them. Mothers spanked their kids with belts, extension cords or whatever was handy (with pure anger in their eyes).  After a few hours of crying and sleeping, love and affection was offered and accepted.  This sick, twisted dance was played out on a regular basis.

As for my house, victimization resided there.  Maria was Manuel’s victim.  Abandonment with three kids (one newborn), no water and power, about to be evicted and not a cent to her name, was worse than any beating.

Predictably, my mother beat her kids.  Later she would admit, that it was her only means of controlling us (even though I got the brunt of the beatings).  I tend to believe she was angry at him and we were just there.  It wasn’t her fault.  She was ignorant, scared and powerless, at least in the beginning. In Mexico, parents did beat there kids.  It was acceptable. It was wrong.

Then of course there was the war amongst the siblings.  Esteban, my brother, was two years older than me.  He wanted a brother but got two wimpy sisters instead.  Esteban beat, taunted and emotionally harassed me.  I did my best to hit him back, but I often failed. His laughing at me only made me more frustrated. I loved him nonetheless. He was my big brother.  I had no choice.

Carmen, my sister, was a year younger, legally blind and mentally retarded.  Yes, I hit her many times.  You’ll be glad to know that she hit me back harder.  But the guilt really killed me.  I loved her, but I was ashamed of her.  She didn’t fit in.  So, I ignored her outside of home.  East L.A. was no place to show weaknesses or even perceived ones. That was the excuse I gave myself.  Truth was, I hated the way she looked, talked and always did what she wanted.  Still, I loved her.  She was my little sis.  I had no choice.


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