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Latino/a Mobility in California History

Genevieve Carpio, Javier Cienfuegos, Ivonne Gonzalez, Karen Lazcano, Katherine Lee Berry, Joshua Mandell, Christofer Rodelo, Alfonso Toro, Authors

This comment was written by Karen Lazcano on 12 Nov 2014.

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The Freeway and the Unfortunate Consequence of 'Progress'

I think Fonzy’s questions bring up an important call to action--especially as young, educated people. It definitely brings to mind the larger picture of how poverty limits access to mobility in terms of environmental reform. Avila’s work in detailing the way the freeways removed poor communities from the city landscape very much ties in with the problem of gentrification in today’s society (like we’ve seen in previous classes: SF/Silicon Valley, [you can check out some effects of it on this interactive map that’s part of a 2003 series on PBS] etc).

I think it was an interesting choice to name the chapter on women’s activism “Nobody but a Bunch of Mothers.” The idea of motherhood is so closely tied to being a protector--nurturing, caring, raising healthy children… tying that to women’s activism against the Highwaymen seems really appropriate (“maternal commitment to defending their neighborhoods against federal overreach” (Avila, 66)). They were protecting the land and community through their activism and through that ‘raising’ healthy landscapes for future generations.

I also want to comment on the irony of freeways and displacement…. The freeway distorted the landscape and found neighborhoods “trapped in what had become a ghetto” (Avila, 43). Putting up these structures expelled poor communities of color. Poverty in the city landscape is not something you can get rid of (at least not without the proper investment in programs to eliminate it) and thus the freeway became a home for the homeless in the city. It has only risen to the attention of city officials--like with Skid Row in Downtown LA--when it comes to emerging capital opportunities, which of course mean gentrification! The freeways displaced these poor communities, then became a home for the homeless in the city, and are now being policed--meaning getting rid of these individuals--for the sake of the city’s elite. Can impoverished communities, or communities of color catch a break?

All in all, the freeway has definitely created multiple “unfortunate consequences of progress” (Avila, 43).

(For a little comedic relief)
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