On September 13th, we lost Ms. Mary Rose Cortese, one of our community elders in South Central LA’s Florence-Firestone community. Mary has joined her brother Joe Titus in the next chapter. I know they’re up there still advocating for Florence-Firestone.
Mary and Joe welcomed me into the community on Day 1 in 2009. They were honorary abuelitos to me and many others. Hug your elders. Ask them to tell you stories. Document their lives. Cherish them every day.
At the end of this #AARP session, I dedicated my presentation to Mary Rose Cortese 🙏🏽💛
I was not raised speaking Spanish. When Nana Josephine Pacheco née Ontiveros came to #LosAngeles from #Texas, the school teachers struck her with rulers por hablando Español en clase. So Nana didn’t teach my mom. And nobody taught me. I learned Español in earnest in the last 8 years working as an Embedded Planner on the ground in Florence-Firestone. For real I’m at like 6th grade level, pero sabes que, es mejor que nada!
On arrival Friday in #CDMX, I quickly had to adjust to Español. It was thrilling. I found myself absorbing the spoken word, the unique rhythm, cadence, & dialect of #Chilango, the Spanish of Mexico City. Immediately I found myself translating signs, speech, & writing intuitively. Dormant neurotransmitters began firing. Parts of my brain were trabajando overtime to help situate myself in this new space & culture.
I recognized this feeling. It had been awhile but I’d felt it long before. I told mi esposita that this exhilaration must have been the same stimulating experience of learning Inglés as a child con mi familia on the streets of East Los Angeles y Montebello 40+ years ago.