by María de Jesus
Where I live, my barrio is beautiful, with a view of the bay and the city of San Francisco.
Where I live, we are a mix of communities: Latinx, African-American, and Samoan.
In my barrio, I always see a street sweeper. He reminds me of the block where I lived in Mexico, greeting me in the mornings.
My barrio, where I live, is one of the forgotten neighborhoods of San Francisco, one of the public housing projects. It’s hard to get pizza or UPS to make deliveries and, in some cases, taxis don’t show up either. The media fabricates a need to fear our barrio, embedded in an unjust system.
When I came to live in Potrero Hill thirteen years ago, I too was terrified by the stereotypes I carried with me of Black and Brown communities. I was afraid to walk around. I felt like they were going to assault me or hit me. I didn’t let my daughters play outside. I did not have the courage to look my neighbors in the eye. When the police arrived to patrol the neighborhood, I felt more secure. I thought they were there to take care of us.
After a few years, I pushed past the fear and I soon discovered that all those unfounded messages in my mind and heart were not real. I started by saying hello to my neighbors, not hiding my bag, going out and playing with my girls, getting to know the people who lived right next to me.
Where I live, we are a community and we protect each other. Now, my neighbors take care of my daughters and I take care of their kids. We share our meals.
Where I live, I feel a sense of security and community. Police, even helicopters, continue to arrive, continue to intimidate and isolate our community. Now, I know the police are not the solution. I learned that a united community makes a community safe. And that’s what makes the place where I live even more beautiful.