Entertainment

A Mexican Neighborhood Was On The Verge Of Being Gentrified Until Selena Saved The Day

Latinos from all over town in are stopping by a family-owned carniceria in Chicago’s historically Mexican neighborhood, Pilsen, and it’s for more than just tacos. A new series of murals, all featuring Tejana musical icon Selena have been erected as a joint collaboration by three Latinx who wanted to beautify and drive business to the area and have since called the street La Calle Selena.

“In Latin America, you have streets and paseos dedicated to people whether it was culturally or historically,” said organizer of La Calle and creative strategist, Mateo Zapata. “I wanted to bring that tradition and practice as well.

Onlookers of all ages are stopping by to take photos with the freshly-painted murals.

@carniceria_maribel / Instagram

Quinceañeras, families and friends have stopped by the wall for their own picture with the singer-songwriter, lauding the art on social media with the natural geotag for Carnicera Maribel and the natural hashtag, #LaCalleSelena.

The art on the carniceria features Selena in her memorable Amor Prohibido cover outfit, sparkly purple jumpsuit and in her Grammy dress.

@__samanthaperez / Instagram

The paintings were all spray painted on brick.

Asend One, the artist, doesn’t typically work on pop culture icons, but when creative strategist Mateo Zapata approached him with the idea, he was all for it.

“What I wanted to bring with this mural is bring quality — not just a simple rendering of her,” said Asend, adding that he wanted spectators to “taste some Chicago Mexican food. Art is part of the culture and food is art too.”

Zapata used money from the nonprofit he founded, Inner City Culture, to commission the art in May and so began the process to complete five Selena murals across the street.

@ascend_one / Instagram

The mural was completed this August after about three months of work.

These Selena murals have attracted fans and created an influx of foot traffic and business for Carniceria Maribel.

@angmir / Instagram

Alejandro Banda, who is the incoming owner of the establishment and collaborated with Zapata on the inception of the project has noticed the increase of activity in this area since the mural was completed. His family business has been a part of the Pilsen community since the 1990s when his grandfather first opened the shop. The taqueria was a recent addition from just a few years back which Banda, who is in his mid-20s, has been managing.

“I grew up around the store,” Banda said. “It’s been the biggest part of my life and identity. You really get to get the sense of community at the store. Everyone comes around.

“At the heart of it, Carniceria Maribel really does know its meat and tacos. A taco al pastor y de asada and limonada you can get from the back is eaten at the no frills taqueria by the windows. (Photo Credit: Lyanne Alfaro)

Inside, you can purchase anything from your margarita mix to agua fresca to mouthwatering tacos al pastor.

@bigmichchicago / Instagram

Of course, the business would not be complete without a signature carniceria calendar hung on the wall as is typical to give to customers during the holiday season.

And while Carniceria Maribel may be receiving a healthy amount of business as of late, that is not the case for other small businesses in the area.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Banda said. “But it’s still very disheartening to see a lot of friends and families I’ve known, move out of the neighborhood.”

The cost of living has risen in Pilsen, and the numbers for demographics show it. In the 1960s and 70s, Mexicans arrived in Pilsen in mass numbers. But in a decade alone from 2000 to 2010, the neighborhood lost more than 25 percent of its Latinx population, from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

There are also physical signs of Pilsen’s transformation like when a developer removed iconic cultural murals from the neighborhood’s historic Hispanic community center. Casa Aztlan was torn down to make room for new condos as reported by CityLab. Just last year, community members helped shut down a $52 tour spotlighting gentrification.

Zapata’s commissioned project is more than an art piece for the neighborhood, it’s a strategic way to combat gentrification, he says.

@angmir / Instagram

“Supporting your local business is a realistic (response to gentrification),” he said. “If people go to these corner stores instead of gentrified businesses, they will stay. I do think it could be an effective strategy to avoid displacement from our community.”

Meanwhile, Banda sees La Calle Selena as a way that Carniceria Maribel, an established family business is “adapting.”

A taco al pastor y de asada and limonada is served at the no frills taqueria by the windows.
Photo Credit: Lyanne Alfaro

He considers this crucial for small businesses to survive in addition to support from the local community.

“It gives us an opportunity to re-identify ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to change things up and make things better as a business,” he said.

Banda noted that having immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela as well as a Mexican family business participating in the project adds to the value of the project.

“The fulfillment I get from it has exceeded anything I could have imagined,” said Banda, “A project done by three Latinos of all different backgrounds.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Rise of the Rainbow Coalition Is Reignited in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Entertainment

The Rise of the Rainbow Coalition Is Reignited in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

At the dawn of Black History Month the timely release of “Judas and the Black Messiah” echoed the cries of injustice following a summer of civil unrest. In what was considered the largest multicultural protest of the 21st century, the words of Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton ferociously chanting “I AM…A REVOLUTIONARY!” continue to resonate.

The timely Civil Rights film, available to stream on HBO Max, follows the life and betrayal of The Illinois Black Panther Chairman (played by Daniel Kaluuya) at the hands of a party member and FBI informant William “Bill” O’Neal (played by Lakeith Stanfield). Kaluuya’s captivating performance as the charismatic Hampton received widespread acclaim and his first Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.

For some audience members, this film will be their first introduction to Chairman Fred Hampton and an extension of the Black Panther Party. While the film is relatively accurate, the brief inclusion of the original Rainbow Coalition is pertinent to Hampton’s legacy. You can see its relation to the rise in multicultural youth-driven activism we see today.

In February 1969, Hampton and other Panther members met with Young Lords leader José “Cha-Cha” Jimenez after the Puerto Rican street organization shut themselves in the 18th District police station. The protest was calling attention to the police harassment of Latinx residents in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

The Young Lords started as a turf gang in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in 1960. By 1968, the Young Lords became a Civil Rights organization. The Illinois chapter and Young Lords formed the original Rainbow Coalition in April 1969. Jimenez referred to the coalition as a “poor people’s army” in an interview with Southside Weekly. Shortly after, the coalition grew to include the Young Patriots Organization a white, southern working-class group from Northern Chicago.

The Rainbow Coalition fought against police brutality and institutional racism in Chicago while working to uplift their local communities. The organization, consisting of people in their teens and early 20s, offered free breakfast programs and child daycare centers funded by donations from local businesses.

“It is impossible to make revolutionary change without the people,” Jimenez said in an interview with FightBack! News on the 50th anniversary of the coalition’s foundation.

“The Rainbow Coalition was more than just a gang of activists or folks trying to gain one or two small victories,” he told FightBack! News. “Each of our groups were already small revolutionary armies connected to the people’s struggle and trying to create a People’s Army to win the battle.”

Hampton and Jimenez were both sent to solitary confinement at Cook County Jail for their activism. In another incident noted in the film, Hampton was once sentenced after taking ice cream pops from an ice cream truck to pass out to neighborhood kids.

Supporters claim that it is a consequence of their street organizing and a threat to government authority for their Marxist-Leninist views.

The tension between the Chicago Police Department and the Black Panthers failed to cease, and the FBI was closing in on silencing Hampton. On December 4, 1969, the Cook County’s State Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan conducted an overnight raid on Hampton’s apartment with a warrant to search for illegal weapons.

Police barraged into Hampton’s apartment shooting gunfire wounding several Black Panthers and killing Black Panther security chief Mark Clark. Hampton was asleep in his bedroom next to his pregnant fiancée Deborah Johnson (who now goes by Akua Njeri) when he was struck by the gunfire, killing him.

Hampton was 21 at the time of his death.

The assassination of Fred Hampton left Coalition members distraught and fearful for their own lives as leadership slowly diminished. By 1973, the Rainbow Coalition had officially disbanded.

The embodiment of radicalized thought, in a sea of young revolutionaries, adorning their berets of black and purple. The roars of unapologetic protest against racism persisted and the legacy of youth-driven advocacy for the unified equity of all peoples vehemently lives on.

“Ours is not about individuals but a people’s struggle led by the common folk,” Jimenez said to FightBack! News. “Ours is a protracted struggle that will take years and we must prepare ourselves for the long run via structured community programs specific to the revolution.”

READ: Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Neighbors Raised $60k to Keep this Mariachi Band Family From Being Evicted During the Pandemic

Things That Matter

Neighbors Raised $60k to Keep this Mariachi Band Family From Being Evicted During the Pandemic

Photo via Cielito Lindo Family Folk Music/Facebook

While the pandemic has negatively impacted a lot of Americans, those who derived their income from in-person industries like food, hospitality, and live entertainment, have been hit the hardest.

Once COVID-19 shut the country down, many household were forced to scramble to make ends meet. And while the government offered some assistance, for many it wasn’t enough.

This predicament was exactly what the Chicago family, the Luceros, were going through.

The Luceros are a Chicago-based Mexican-American family who moonlight as the mariachi band, Cielito Lindo. Around Chicago, the Lucero family was known for their astonishing musical abilities.

Juan and Susie Lucero are parents to a talented team of seven children, all of whom play different musical instruments and have breathtaking singing voices. Diego, Miguel, Antonio, Carlos, Lilia, Maya, and Mateo all have different roles within the band, while Juan is the bandleader.

Before the pandemic, the Lucero family derived the majority of their income from their live performances. They would cover classic favorites like “El Rey” as well as doing mariachi-twists on modern pop hits like Cardi B’s “I Like it Like That”.

But when COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, the Lucero family was no longer allowed to play live events.

All of their performances were canceled. Even their long-standing weekly gig at a local restaurant disappeared. Their income dropped by 40%.

While the Luceros tried to cut corners and make small changes, the reality was, they couldn’t keep up with their bills. By the time Christmas rolled around, they were $18,000 behind on rent. They got an eviction notice.

The family had heard that the government had launched a rent-assistance program, but they couldn’t find many details on how to apply. They were completely lost.

Desperate for help, Juan Lucero reached out to his Facebook friends, asking them if they knew how to apply for government assistance.

But what he got in return was something even better. Their community decided to step up and take action.

“A few of us talked and said, ‘We can’t let them be evicted from their home. There’s just no way,'” their neighbor, Robert Farster, recently told CBS This Morning.

Farster ended up creating a GoFundMe page for the Lucero family. “Our good friends, the Luceros, need help,” he wrote. “Juan, Susy and their seven kids are too proud to ask for it, so as their friends, we’re stepping in.”

Within days, Farster had raised over $60,000, veritably saving the Luceros from eviction.

“It’s like a miracle. We didn’t expect that,” Juan Lucero told This Morning. “It feels like a big warm hug from many people.”

Juan’s wife, Susy Lucreo felt the same way. Despite these divisive times, she felt tons of love and support from her community.

“We feel very much loved and accepted as a Mexican-American family with roots in Guadalajara,” she told This Morning. “And we come together to share that combination of culture, which really is what America is all about–this big melting pot.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com