Sunday, May 16, 2010

Powerless



When I contemplate about life when it happens or I find myself at a cross roads, I look to my patron saint, Peter Parker aka Spider-man. I think to my self,  what would Spider-man do ? For as long as I can remember, I have always used humor to sort of diffuse a situation. I once almost broke my ankle, and after they got the dirt bike off of me, I joked that my wipe outs aren't as funny when they hurt. Everyone got a good laugh. Yet, when I got a text from my sister saying that my mom was arrested by police, I couldn't find anything funny to say. I just froze and thought to my self, no. This isn't happening. This only happens to other people. Other families. Not mine. Not my mom.

One lesson I've learned in life is that you stand by your decisions. If you decide to do something, you take everything that comes along with that decision. The good and the bad. My mom knows what she does. She knows that in Los Angeles it's illegal to sell food without a proper permit. She's never had run in with police because she wasn't a normal street vendor that was mobile. She sells tamales in front of a path way where we use to live a few years ago. Before her our aunt sold there because she lived there before we got there and she herself sold tamales at another local popular spot at night. She was doing it since the early 90s, for mare than 20 years.
Everyone knows her and they got to know her. Her food never got anyone sick, she never left trash or a mess where she sold, in fact she cleaned the side walk because local store owners didn't. She works from 6 to 9-10 a.m. before all local restaurants open up. Serving all the people that are on their way to work, running morning errands or like me, on their way to school. She buys what she needs from all the local mom and pop stores where we live. She makes what she needs and repeats the process and was able to make a living from that. She pays her taxes with an ITIN and relies on no one but herself to make that living. She is self sustainable. But the law is the law and because she doesn't have a permit, she isn't above the law.

So there isn't much to contemplate here. It's pretty black and white. You break the law, you face equal consequences for it. But none of this was going through my mind when everything was happening. When I was at work, holding back tears and getting through the day, thinking about what my mom is feeling going through the booking process and spending a few hours in holding. What will happen next because she is undocumented and what that means in the justice system. She's never been in trouble and this is her first offense, but she can't sell anymore. She can't make a living any more.

It's almost impossible to get a restaurant going here in Los Angeles and making it. You have to have money to just get it started and money to keep it going. They've had restaurants before and have been legal vendors in the past, but the system is just too broken and uneven. That's why she would rather go rouge and take that risk. Powerless is all I can feel right now. At the system, at what happened and what will happen. I'm including the thoughts I wrote down before I went to work that day. I needed to meditate and calm myself down after going to the station and waiting for her to get out. These are just reactionary thoughts.   

I all I can feel running through my entire body and essance, even as I try to calm myself, to breath and know that nothing is wrong and nothing is happening, how can I stop from holding back the tears of anger, frustration and just plane rage over the fact that my own mom, the same person who use to walk me to school, helped to teach me to read and write, how to say grace, has been there for me all my life was arrested for selling tamales. My anger knows no direction. Like a massive volcano that explodes and gushes liquid hot magma every where, burning and scorching everything in its path. My anger can't find a direction to go in. I know that I can't direct it toward the cops that made the arrest, the stupid ass muther fuckers that called the police on her, the system in place that keeps us oppressed and indirectly forces us to work in these kind of conditions to make a living. My anger has no direction or a target because there isn't one. I can't be mad at the officers that were finger printing her as I saw beyond the bullet proof glass, titanium locked doors. I saw her hand from the distance and I knew that was her. I know my own mother like no one else. I zoomed in on her as the officer told us that we gotta wait for her to be processed. That we have to wait for Sacramento to do a background check for any past crimes or if there's any deportation order out for her.


I've done soo many workshops, passed out flyers and helped other people know their rights. I have guided toward people or services that will help them in the situation they're. So why didn't I ever take the time to explain these things to my own mother ? Why didn't I show her the videos on what to do in certain situations ? Why didn't I tell her what the process is and given her a know your rights card from CHIRLA ? We all know that what my mom was doing is illegal. We've been doing this for soo many years that it's second instinct. That's where I got careless. You should always be prepared for any situation. Now there's an uncertainty in the air about what can or may happen. Will the system find something find her eligible to be deported ? My first instinct when I found out what happened was to call everyone I know who had connections and get help. I wanted to call favors to ask for help in getting my mom outta jail ASAP. I wanted to go to the fucking police station and yell, "let my mom go you fucking pigs !!!!!" In called to find out where she is. I looked up the article about the vendors who were arrested a few weeks back and thought about my mom going through the same thing. Being mistreated and put through the system like a fucking drunk or crack head criminal.


I'm constantly reminding myself to calm down, to breath and to think like a Jedi. To clear my head of these emotions and think clearly. To know that there is a system in place and getting emotional isn't going to help get my mom out any faster. I had to hold back tears the whole time because it's not going to change anything, but emotions cannot be denied. I'm no Jedi master or a Buddhist monk. I am saseptable to my emotions and therefore prone to errors and mistakes. For now, I will go to work. I will call again to find out the status of my mother who is in jail for selling tamales. I will keep a clear mind and focus myself to not let y emotions get in the way of logic. I will tell her story and mine when she is back home today. I will tel that story because it's what I do. I'm a story teller and that is my greatest strength. I am a reporter that has a voice in his community and I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that everyone hears that voice. I will do everything in my power to make this hidden issue the main issue. My mom was arrested for selling tamales and making a living. Just thinking about the way this country is set up to keep people like us from wanting to live here, it makes me want to leave forever, but I don't know where else to live. This is all I know. How can I leave the only place I know to call home ?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts: a) Count the times you use me; my; mine; and I (LA Unified Schools I guess).
b) The old gals you write about have, according to you, been breaking the law (in more ways than one) for many years. Such persons (with police records, are NOT seen as ideal candidates for residency or much of anything

Anonymous said...

To the Blogger:

Whether it was your intention or not, your opening graphics are offensive.

Every state in America except two has laws dealing with the misuse, abuse, and desecration of the American flag. It is a crime to do it in public or take a flag so altered and display it in public.

Kindly remove the offending images.

Msgt. C. Howard Finester IV
US Marine Corps

Anonymous said...

Msgt. C. Howard Finester IV,

A while ago this picture was placed in a specific blog post. The blogger was inundated with responses, mostly from the readers letting him know that it was very offensive to display such an image. Sometime time later, the blogger seemed to have sensed that:
1)this specific image brought in traffic to his site
2)making the main image to his site would repeat the incident.

This blogger was advised that blatant disrespect towards the American flag was deplorable, but he continues to use this image.

Please let me apologize for the display of a desecrated flag. The blogger knows full well that actions like these only feed fuel to the fire that is preventing the possible solution to any type of progress towards solving the illegal immigration issue.

Thank you for your service sir. Good day.

J.I. Ramirez
San Diego, Ca.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the response this blogger gave regarding the comments he received the first time he posted this picture can be seen on the entry posted November 12, 2009.

J.I.R.
SD,Ca.

Anonymous said...

titled, "Look at what I made in photo class"

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous and @Anonymous - do you even have hearts?

Being a street vendor is as American as anything, in my mind. Everyone wants to be in business for themselves. It's the dream.

In tough times, people do what they can. People recycled rags and sold apples during the Great Depression. They weren't licensed to do those things -- they were desperate.

If you want to reduce street vending, legalize. Legalize the people, and you'll see them be able to get jobs, make better wages, and be able to afford to sit down and eat.

Anonymous said...

Hey Hermano, I am sorry to hear about your situation. I know most of these other comments are more concern about a picture they understand/ or the legal implications of street vending. The flag is symbolic of our culture,our merging of two cultures into one. They fail to see this, instead seeing it as defacing the flag, while we are using it to represent our roots and love for this country, a symbol of what symbolizes us. Obviously we wouldn't deface a flag, even though this country might not be run by our ideal representatives, our love for this country goes beyond that. Hope all works out for your jefa, and suerte.. East Los Xicano

P.s. Street vending is part of our Eastside community, and will continue to be so.

Anonymous said...

Besides the typo errors (and there are many) the writer is simply clueless. Street vendors selling food need to be shut down. Mexicans have been on the wrong side of the law for so long, they are beginning to justify their actions. Think about it, illegal status, illegal food, meth production, marijuana cultivation, Social Security Fraud, etc. American citizens will fight immigration reform as long as the lawlessness continues.