This I Believe

Laura - SLC, Utah
Entered on February 15, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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The Two Sides of a Life

By: Laura E

At school, I’m just a student trying to get through life like everyone else, but when I’m with my family, I’m a member, I’m representing, I’ am defending my family, I’m strong, my race matters and I have to fight or else I’ am weak.

At school, I’m way different. You wouldn’t even know I was in a gang unless I told you. I’m the girl you see in the hallway with a lot of friends and good grades. My cousins call me the Guerra (white girl) of the family, the only person who wants a different life. I try to do my best, I want to go to college and succeed, you know; be the head of a company, open my own shop. Want to learn how to design clothes. I want a better life then the one I have now. Success means everything, something my family on my dad’s side never accomplished. I’m happy. I try to not let the other side of me come out. Who I’ am at school is the out side of me. “My secret identity” as I like to say. When I get home though, I’ am someone else. A person no one wants to see.

My family on my mom’s side is way different. To me they are perfect but on my dad’s side, it’s a bad dream. A dream that I want to wake up from but know that that can never be. To my family, this hidden life of mine comes first or else you’re dead to them. I have to watch my back for our “enemies.” If someone’s hurt, you have this hate build up inside of you. You want revenge. This life wants you to feel this. This is the life of an Espinoza, Arellano, Esparza, Cortez, Garcia, Villagrana, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubanos, Indian, Italian, Blacks, Asian, Qvo, Sureño, 18th street, Norteño, Mexican Mafia, MS-13, and B.B.If you’re Black, or Asian or any other race or gang, you are an enemy. Walk into another’s territory; it’s like a sign of disrespect. It’s like no matter if you’re friends at school, family, and etc. If you’re not the same gang you’re enemies by law, our law. You always have to know your place in this world.

When I first entered this life, I was 9 years old. When I entered the family gang, I was 3rd generation. My initiation was one I will never forget. They beat you to make you strong, to make you fight, to make you hate. My neighborhood isn’t as bad as it used to be, but that’s because of my family, the pigs (police), and the drug addicts that run out of room and left to make more stash somewhere else. Sometimes, I have to admit, it’s scary to walk out that door, you have to keep you eyes open, and when you’re seen, run (if unarmed.) This is our chain of survival. “Away of life” as my brother calls it, something we can never change but accept, or else you’re dead

I love my family but I hate to fight and be in this undeclared war. I’ve lost too many friends and family in this undeclared war. But the worst part is that it will never stop. There will always be this anger in us that will just keep getting bigger. You cant run from it, I’ve tried but all it does is get you into more trouble. You can’t choose which life you want. For me, it was already decided, once I became of the right age. To my family, you cant be Mexican if you don’t represent your name, family, or color. The typical stereotype Americans give us and the sad thing is that we follow it. We get angry and full of rage if someone calls us spics, wetbacks, beaners, or trash, but why should we if we live up to that name?

This is my secret life, the other side of me. Like Dr Jackal and Mr. Hyde. This secret life is all I have. I’m not proud of it but what choice do I have. I’m not in the gang so much anymore but as I said before, my family comes first and I have to fight for them or I’ am nothing. I rather do this then die by a bullet because I wanted revenge or stand up for something I didn’t believe in. I believe, well actually hope, that this undeclared war will end. If not then we all need to be afraid. I believe that you can choose, that you can be both good and maybe even have a little bad in you. I believe that this undeclared war will end and then there will finally be that one place where no one is in pain, suffering, or anger. This I believe is the place I hope I will see while alive or when I die. All this, just to survive. This is the two sides of a life, my life.