Black Friday May 9th Evictions versus Mexican Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium
Its baseball season again. Here in Los Angeles, Dodger fans have come out of hibernation.
Everywhere you look you are sure to spot someone representing the Los Angeles Dodgers. From the sidewalks to the workplace, and of course, all over social media, fans are actively talking about their team.
On The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Facebook page, in the upcoming events section, you can purchase tickets for Mexican Heritage Day, being held on May 9th 2017. Coincidence or not, this day represents something greater in Chicana/o history. Fifty-eight years ago, on May 9th, 1959 the Arechiga family was outnumbered and dragged out of their home, on the very same land where the infamous Dodgers’ Stadium now stands.
In an article published in the Los Angeles Times titled, “Chavez Ravine Evictions” by Scott Harrison the author quotes an article published and dated in the nineteen fifties. “Under a headline ‘“Chavez Ravine Family Evicted; Melee Erupts,”’ the Los Angeles Times reported on May 9, 1959: ‘“There was a melee in Chavez Ravine yesterday as forcible eviction of a few residents there began. The action erupted only seconds after an army of sheriff’s deputies, accompanied by three large moving vans, arrived at the Arechiga family’s residences at 1767 and 1771 Malvina St…”
The article continues to describe the events that proceeded. ‘“It including a screaming, kicking woman (Mrs. Aurora Vargas, 38, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Arechiga) being carried from the house…children of the family wailing hysterically as their sobbing mother, Mrs. Victoria Angustian, 29, struggled fiercely in the grasp of deputies…”’
Sometime after the evictions and with no time to waste, or reason to demolish, concrete was poured over what remained. Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop as they were originally known, finally seized to exist. The Arechiga family and children thereof have suffered lifelong trauma since the eviction of 1959. Only the memories along with documented reports and videos archived away in both private and public institutions remain.
Buried under Dodgers’ Stadium the remains of the communities lay. However, like extinct fossils we know that nothing stays submerged forever. Today the MexicanAmerican and Latina/o communities across Los Angeles and the U.S struggle against an administration that does not embrace or accept Latinas/os. We struggle to identify with our history, with each other, with our own undocumented brothers and sisters. We fill our days with past times and entertainment in hopes that we will weather the storm. Tired and overworked, we attempt to fill our voids with sports, in this case, with baseball games. We show our loyalty and pride as devout Dodger fans, while literally sitting atop the blood and tears of our elders. But how could we do better if we don’t know better? Our history has been buried so deeply under the blue. While many will continue to fill the seats of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Stadium, a conscious awareness about what “Mexican Heritage Day,” really means is pivotal to the livelihood of our communities. Our Los Angeles people lack historical knowledge, therefore also lack historical acknowledgement, as contributing Mexican American citizens. A day or month will not suffice, and comes at a high cost. For some it means an entire day’s pay or even more to celebrate “Mexican Heritage.” As history has taught us, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future."