When I was a little kid, maybe six or seven years old, my family had decided that we were going to pick up and move out to Arizona. Up until this point, I had lived in Upland, California and attended kindergarten at Magnolia elementary school. Moving to Arizona was a very big move. I remember the moving guys taking everything out of our home and loading it into a big truck parked out front while my mom was frantically packing up all of our things into boxes. Moving was going to be a big change, but was not so frightening being that I have family that not only lives in California but also in the area we would be moving to. I did not know very much at such a young age so choosing an elementary school was not a difficult task for my parents. On the first day of school my brother, Colby, and I walked through the gates eager to meet new friends and together we made our way out to the playground before school started. Colby is my older brother. We are seventeen months apart and have always been very close. At this point, we were too young to realize what we would be getting ourselves into and our parents had raised us to treat everybody with equal respect and kindness. With that being said, making friends was very easy for us and we enjoyed our elementary school days.
Looking back at either old yearbooks of my classmates or just what I am able to recall from memory, my elementary school was primarily white with very little diversity.
I did, however, have one friend that was african american, his name was Donovan, and I believe he was the only african american in my entire school. Regardless of his race, my attitude and friendship with him was no different than any other one of my friends. I was raised to believe that we are all equal beings, no one person is above another. What I was not aware of at such a young age, was the differences in lifestyles that everyone lived. Whether it be in a home, apartment, condo, or even being homeless. In addition to home lifes, there are different religious beliefs, different foods that we all eat, different holidays that we celebrate and much more.
When I turned 11 years old, my life began to change drastically. My parents had decided to get divorced. My mom, Erin, had been a stay at home mom for many years of the relationship with no additional education past high school. Being said, finding work for my mom was difficult with no set skill set, just a great work ethic and the drive to do better. For more support and assistance with Colby, my sister Alivia, and I, my mom decided it would be best for us to move back to the great state of California where all of our immediate family lives. Upon arrival, my mom had about three hundred dollars and the truck we moved our things with. With the great family I have, my aunt and uncle invited us to stay with them until we were able to get on our feet. Coming from my dad making over one hundred and fifty thousand a year living in a nice home with two parents, this was going to be a big change. We lived with my family for about a year with all four of us in one bedroom. The room was only so big so Colby and I shared a twin bed and My mom and Alivia shared a twin bed. We had 1 small dresser to put our clothes in and no closet in the room. We shopped at the swapmeet for clothes when we had the money and ate chicken and rice burritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months. My mom had gotten a job at an assisted living facility working graveyard shifts 6 days out of the week where she was a caregiver for residents with alzheimer’s and dementia. I remember she came home one morning and told us the story about all of her coworkers at night primarily speaking spanish. She had previously asked my aunt how to say “I wipe many shitty asses”. My aunt told her to go back to her friends and tell them “ Limpio muchos culos de mierda”. Aside from that, this is where I began to realize that there was much more to living that I had become accustomed to. Once the school year started, I began to attend middle school for the first time in a new state with no friend, and coming from a primarily white school going into a school that white had seemed more like a minority was a shock for me. I began to feel like an outcast and just minded my own business. I would walk the mile in P.E. by myself, I sat in the back of the classroom, and I ate my lunches alone. After a few days, people would come up to me and introduce themselves and I slowly began to make new friends. Before this time I had primarily had white friends that lived very similar to me and ate the same foods and did similar activities as me. The very first friend I made was mexican. His name is Antonio Loera and we are still friends to this day. His family is very big. His mom has ninety nine first cousins and his dad a very similar number. When he would invite me to family occasions I would be overwhelmed by the amounts of family in attendance. Everyone was always so nice and welcoming. Nobody came empty handed and everyone always made sure that you had enough and a little extra to eat. Over the years we learned more about each other, Antonios dad was originally from Mexico. After many years of hardship he was able to become a citizen of the United States. It was different for me to see a family that had been through so much change in their present day life and still work as hard as they did. Antonio’s family was very successful with his mom being an interpreter for the courts and his dad the owner of a mexican food restaurant.
Being so young, it was very eye opening for me to be able see what his family had accomplished. From his mother not have graduating high school as a minority being able to go back to school and become qualified for a job within the court system, to his dad picking up his entire life and moving to a separate country where negativity is all around and people root against you. I am grateful to be able to see first hand the opportunities that are within our communities and the great United States. I have learned alot about different lifestyles and the difficult struggles that other families have been through. My eye opening experiences coming from a predominantly white community with a middle class family and two parents, to living in unfortunate living conditions have been one for the better with the great role models in my life.
- Arizona Picture- Google Images
- California Picture- Google Images
- Tio’s Picture- Google Images
- Yearbook Picture- Google Images