Let us walk quietly through Chicano Park in San Diego even though you are everywhere in the Cyberworld and I am sitting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
We returned home late, late Sunday evening. So late the owls didn’t even blink as we drove through a couple new inches of snow in our driveway. So cold in the house that we quickly started a fire in the woodstove in an attempt to warm our tired travel-weary bones.
Like the trooper he is, Barry trekked off to work Monday morning. Since I have such flexible hours at the school, I decided to take advantage of them and stay home until Tuesday. Which was today. Which I did. All because–of course–a blog begged to be written yesterday morning.
So here we are back at Chicano Park in San Diego. What, you ask, is Chicano Park and why should I care?
You should care, dear reader, because this park depicts a human struggle. It depicts a struggle of people who stood up against the government. It depicts the struggle of a people who felt overwhelmed and violated–and who made an effort to speak, to have a voice, to be heard.
Many of us face similar struggles daily. We choose to speak–or to remain silent. We choose to express our wishes and desires and thoughts clearly and lovingly–or to let negative emotions and negativity take center stage. Every day some human rights are being acknowledged and others pushed underground. Some rights are being trampled; others highlighted.
For some of us the rights are health care for the populace. For others it is equal rights. For others it is–a hundred thousand different expressions. No matter what our issue, we decide whether to speak it or remain silent. We decide if we are defeated before beginning to speak, or if we have a chance to be heard.
In the 1960’s, in Barrio Logan in San Diego, during the construction of the bridge to Coronado Island (see previous post for photos from Coronado Island) the city of San Diego promised the community of Barrio Logan (mostly comprised of Chicanos, who are Americans of Mexican descent) that a section of land beneath the bridge would be set aside for a community park. Instead plans were made to build a California Highway Patrol station on the site. In April of 1970, when workers with tractors and bulldozers arrived to begin excavating the land, members of the community gathered at the site and formed a human chain to impede the construction.
The park, which contains possibly the largest display of Chicano murals anywhere in the world, carries a feeling of people who can claim their voice and overcome their sense of invisibility and dismay. It heralds the disenfranchised, the ones without power, the people who have been silenced with lack of economic or political backing.
I quivered with possibility beneath the bridge to Coronado, among the Chicano murals. I longed for justice. I longed for equality. For all people to feel a sense of possibility, of hope, of fervor, of commitment. I longed not to go home and forget, to become enmeshed in daily routine, to sigh about the inevitability of never realizing equality for all.
Yet today I am back at home and the pull of daily routine looms large. What will it take for people to express themselves in a way that will be heard?
I don’t have the answers.
We can just look at the murals and hope.