“I don’t want to be a failure. I don’t want to let my people down.”
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Transcript for The Weight I Carry
I was born and raised in Little Village, Chicago. It’s near southwest side of Chicago–“inner city” or, as society likes to call it, “urban.”
You have gang territories around there, also like the viaduct bridges that like the trains go on—that’s like you’re entering an African American neighborhood. So it’s really divided—it’s really sad to see that, or to know that you are trying to play basketball one day and you can’t go to that specific park due to specific gang territories. Unfortunately, it is divided, and sometimes when you cross that border, or that imaginary border, you could possibly suffer some deadly consequences.
My brother is involved with gangs in Chicago; he has been involved since he was 19. He’s the first person I ask for and he’s the first person I worry about because I know the things he’s doing are really life threatening. That does paint a negative picture to our family as well; I know people like to talk, la gente le gusta el chisme [people like to gossip]. Y eso me afecta a mi This reflects on me on my image…y eso me afecta, y eso es algo que yo quiero parar…quiero ser un estudiante…no quiero ser involucrado con gangas porque tengo mucha gente que espera mucho de mi.[I want to be a student, I don’t want to be involved with gangs because I have a lot of people that are expecting a lot from me.]
I don’t like being called, like my brother’s nickname, I don’t like being called “lil” and his nickname, you know what I mean? It could be one day that you have another gang member, and he’s just walking around without even knowing, and then somebody calls me that, and he’s gonna assume I’m gang related. That’s something that I don’t want to go through, that’s something I don’t want to put my family through either. Although he is really, really, really tough on me, on keeping my grades up, on going to school, doing the right things, so he’s no necessarily impacting me in a negative way—besides me worrying a lot for him—he’s also motivating me to do better. And my relationship with him is really good actually.
I do carry a weight on me due to the fact of my where I’m from and how I look. I know people like to bring others down and say that they won’t achieve the things they’re achieving due to the fact that back home you’re facing this and you’re facing that, so it is a big weight.
No nada mas es el peso académico, de mis grados pero también es el peso que tengo con la gente de mi comunidad. Yo cargo ese peso porque yo quiero hacer…successful. Yo quiero agarrar una beca, mi diploma, quiero hacer una carrera buena. Y aveces eso es imposible porque uno vive mal, mal como no tener suficiente dinero para mandar a sus hijos a la escuela.[It’s not only weight I carry due to academics, or my grades but it’s also the weight I carry of the people of my community. I carry that weight because I want to be successful. I want to get a scholarship, get my diploma, have a good career. And sometimes that’s impossible because people don’t live well. Not living well like not having enough money to send your children to school.]
Y mucha gente en mi comunidad no tienen a alguien que ellos puedan ver como un héroe. Las únicas personas que tienen como héroe son las pandillas o los pandilleros que estan en las esquinas. Y tristemente he visto niños de diez años actuando como gangeros, actuando como si estan haciendo drogas.[Many people don’t have a lot of people that they can see as a hero. The only people they see as heroes are gangs or gang members that are on corners. And sadly, I’ve seen kids that are ten years old acting like they’re gang members, acting as if they’re doing drugs.]
Una historia que me recuerdo muy bien es cuando estaba en el cuarto ano de la secundaria y fui a un parque y ahí estaban en un parque y ahí estaba tres niños eran niños y estaban fumando papeles, no era papel de marijuana, era papel de libreta, un cuaderno. Y les dije ey que estan haciendo y ellos me dicen estamos fumando papeles como la canción de Wiz Khalifa, estamos fumando papeles. Y yo les dije eso te hace mal y me recibieron con malas palabras con señales de ganga y insultaron a mi madre… Es eso es triste yo quiero que ellos sepan que eso es mal, y que nada mas porque son de La Villita no pueden hacer lo que ellos quieren porque hay muchas veces asi es.[A story that I remember very well was when I was a senior in high school and I went to a park and in that park there were three kids, and they were smoking paper. And not paper for marijuana, it was paper, notebook paper. And I asked them, “What are you doing?” And they say, “We’re smoking paper like the Wiz Khalifa song. We’re smoking papers.” I said, “That’s bad for you,” and they started to curse at me, throw gang signs, and insult my mother… That’s sad. I want them to know that that is wrong. I want them to know that just because they’re from Little Village doesn’t mean that they can’t do what they want because there are so many times that that is how it is.]
Y yo cargo ese peso porque yo estoy representando no nada más a mi familia pero también estoy representando a La Villita, Chicago porque mucha gente tiene no tiene muchas cosas bonitas que decir y mirando a los ninos también no tienen muchas cosas bonitas que decir de ellos. Yo quiero ser esa persona que digan, bueno pues Luis vivía en la esquina de la Homan, allá eso es territorio de gangas, pero el de todos modos lo hizo, agarro sus diplomas, ¿me entiendes? Yo cargo ese peso por si un día yo no vengo pa’ tras a la Universidad, pues todo lo que yo estaba hablando se empieza a reducir y gente ya no me conoce y me conoce como un perdedor y eso es el peso que yo cargo.[And I carry that weight because not only am I representing my family, I am also representing Little Village, Chicago, because a lot of people don’t have a lot of nice things to say about and looking at those kids also, people don’t have nice things to say. I want to be that person that they say, “Well, Luis lived on the corner of Homan and that’s gang territory but he managed to get his diplomas,” you see what I mean? I carry that weight, because if one day I don’t return to the university well everything that I was saying and talking about starts to reduce and people no longer know me. They know me as a failure. That’s the weight that I carry.]
That’s the weight I carry of my community. I don’t want to be a failure; I don’t want to let my people down, so the things I do isn’t only for my family it’s for them as well.