Monday, October 22, 2007
Luis Urrea, author of many acclaimed books including The Hummingbird's Daughter, a novel about his great-aunt Teresita Urrea, visits Teresita's home in Segundo Barrio, El Paso, Texas. Teresita's home is in the downtown plan's demolition zone. In this video, Luis stands beside the home and says, "this is a very special place for me--I think it's a special place for other people--if you look down here at the ground people are lighting candles to Teresita, even in this barrio building that nobody respects anymore. It's facing being torn down, possibly becoming a parking lot. Some people don't want to see that happen--you notice the historical plaque here about her, and this is her doing a healing here in El Paso..."
The downtown plan's extension into segundo barrio will displace many people, it will destroy a vibrant, historic neighborhood on the border to make way for a culture called the almighty dollar, which in the U.S. all too often means: make way for more corporate shopping experiences, make way for emptiness, make way for the mass media sources to ignore abuse and be its spinning cheerleaders, make way for those in power to wield it.
Teresita Urrea's place should be valued and treasured by the City of El Paso. The acres upon acres of Segundo Barrio that are in the demolition plan should be equally treasured by the city for the living history of the people, of the area. This area should be revitalized in consultation with the residents instead of demolished. Unfortunately, the big picture for many in power is destroy and create a new "culture," a culture of money-making, but that new culture does not heal the root causes of poverty. And so it goes for many communities of color that have been taken over and demolished in this country and throughout the Americas in the name of the residents' own "betterment." This is not resignation, but my sadness, that these abuses and issues are not acknowledged more or adequately by the mass media, in the school curriculums, in everyday discussions. Don't trust the newspapers or the news stations to report all that's really going on.
a different though related issue [In South Texas, private property, historic neighborhoods, falling prey to eminent domain abuse to make way for the fed. government's border wall. Folks whose families have lived along the river for a very long time are having to fight for their land. The anti-immigration sentiment in this country is another impetus for large-scale destruction on the border (cultural, environmental, and so much more, unfortunately). Gloria Anzaldúa called the border "una herida abierta" over 20 years ago in Borderlands/La Frontera. This open wound grows instead of diminishes as the years progress. This place that many of us love is also the location of the wounded state of affairs that ripples forth from this place. Reading Américo Paredes today does not seem like reading something written over 50 years ago in many respects. Reading Aristeo Brito's El Diablo en Texas is as apt today as any year].
For more information on "redevelopment" plans on the border, eminent domain abuse, and how the binational so-called "revitalization" plan affects residents on the other side of the border (violence and human rights violations), see the Paso del Sur website. I have not even begun to describe what's going on for residents in the colonias. Read on at the website and watch the documentary linked on the website.