Going to Chicano park really brought me back to my hometown and community. In the hour that we had to explore, I was able to see the remnants of resistance, humanity, and growing gentrification.
Almost all of the murals I saw were politically charged, which really brought me back to when I grew up in Oakland. The art and graffiti present were always tackling larger systemic inequalities or exuding pride for the location. This type of artivism is unknown to the public because of fear or prejudice against the people(s) living there. One of the things that stood out most to me was the communal alter with many different families’ loved ones who passed away. In a brief interaction with someone, a mother told me “that’s my sister” as she fixed up a picture and prayed. This type of interaction was not uncommon to me and actually brought me back to my closest friends who had altars outside of their homes because their family members or friends were taken away from them too soon.
What really angered me was the distinct difference in the communities that surrounded Chicano Park. On one end, new condominiums were present with demographics not matching Barrio Logan’s profile shuffling in and out of the building. This leads me to understand that the area around Chicano park is being gentrified in order to make the location a “better” place by bringing in implants. This is a too real scenario for me because my hometown has been completely gentrified for Silicon Valley implants. Even 400+ miles away from home, the same things are happening to these people that are happening to my own.
But despite it all, Chicano Park served as a location of healing for me. I was reminded of what art and grassroot activism really entail: agency in the community’s hands.