By Leguim Samor, Highland Park resident and Member of North East Los Angeles Alliance
I would first like to start off by thanking my Ancestors and the Tongva people, the people of this land which I currently occupy.
The intention of this public art performance for me was to share the power within our voices and movement to perform a narrative and raise awareness to the rampant displacement of working class communities of color.
One of our goals was to create a public performance ( Evicting Displacement) to provoke dialogue on the rapid displacement happening in the community. We did so by placing evictions on businesses as a symbolic gesture depicting a glimpse of what is a reality for many working class families. In addition, the performance would also consist of creating a safe space for community testimonies performed through song or spoken word from various residents of North East LA. The testimony would also be accompanied by music with different instruments playing together.
I realize some business might of felt offended by this performance. However, we did intend to be controversial in our presentation, so long as we brought attention to the rampant evictions, displacement of people and the displacement of culture in our communities. We did not realistically evict these businesses( obviously), but we did want to have them question their privilege, and how they contribute to the displacement. This is something many will never understand, where developers and businesses come in unannounced and the working class people feel all the repercussions.
Our Second goal was to engage community and provide information about a tenant rights workshop. Meanwhile creating a safe space where people could and would share their personal experiences of “el desalojo” (displacement). We did so by inviting the community members into (Pachanga Hahamongna) a walking celebration that invites community members to participate and share their own testimonios, to feel empowered and to know they are not alone. We would sing and play music to gain community attention and give us an opportunity engage in dialogue. We went to different locations such as Laundromats, apartment complexes, and anywhere where we saw people gather, and were able to provide information regarding tenant rights and hear out many of the community bring up their personal testimonies and concerns with displacement.
We called this portion of our performance Pachanga Hahamongna as a homage to the communities that have been physically displaced from this landscape. Hahahmongna which is the Tongva word and original name of the Arroyo Seco River. The other word Pachanga a spanish word for a party or celebration and is often used by the Latino culture.
We are open to have conversations with any of the business owners or community members. I acknowledge that all these business owners are also part of the community and as long as they are here we must be a cohesive community that supports each other. Specifically in coming together and finding a way to mitigate or put an end to the historic practice of displacing people and their culture.
About the Northeast Alliance:
The Northeast Alliance is a group of local Northeast Los Angeles Residents committed to witnessing and documenting the changing socio-economic landscape of NELA. The group is committed to understanding the full effect of gentrification on immigrant, working class and poor communities and addressing these effects through education, organizing, visual and performing arts and ongoing scholarship. Recognizing that many of the narratives defining gentrification are not coined by the immigrant, working class and poor communities it profoundly affects, Northeast Alliance is non-complacent in challenging those prevailing narratives by presenting and recording voices of those who are not heard.