“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Lily did not want to be interviewed. Little does she know that she was part of the reason that this whole blog began. “Watson, whose gonna care about what I have to say.” “Don’t worry Lily, I care.” So I met Lily almost two years ago. She became a teller at this branch for almost the same reasons that any of us had. The pay was better than most retail jobs and there were benefits for half time work. Managers at the bank claimed that there were supportive of school schedules which at the time of hiring seemed like another great selling point but honestly it didn’t look that way from all the begging that Lily had to do every semester when it came time to pick classes. “Lily is there any reason you like working for the bank?” “Yea well first off I get paid. Second even while I’m grumbling I know that this will help me in my career path. In business you will have to always do something that you don’t want do, but if you want to look at it as an area of opportunity then everything can be better.” We both looked at each other and started laughing. Areas of opportunity? “Lily you’ve gone to the dark side of corporate giant.” “I know, I know”, she giggles.

“Watson she continues this job has also helped me see other things. The majority of people that we help are Latino, they’re my people. I see day in and day out men and women bringing checks from a hard day’s work to get money to feed their families. My mom is a hard worker. She taught me from an early age that the only way to be successful is to work hard and fight what obstacle may come your way. Watson that’s what I see when help la raza. I know that some are lazy and others don’t work as hard as others but we are all cut from the same cloth and if I can help mu hermanos en la communidad then I’m going to.”

Suddenly I saw Lily in a different light. She was one of the reasons that I took Chicano studies classes. At the time she seemed so ambivalent to forces so social oppression and institutional suppression. Now I could see that Lily was not only fully aware of the obstacles that were in from of her and her community, but that’s why she sat on the line. Lily wanted the Latino community of Orange to have a chance; whether it was to pay their bills or put food on the table it was the duty of the Latinos in the barrio to be guardians for those who couldn’t speak for themselves in a system that needs advocates who seek change and equality.


About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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