I grew up in the Silicon Valley, which most people now recognize as the home of the most successful tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. The cities of Palo Alto and Atherton have some of the biggest and most beautiful houses I have ever seen in my life. While it is great to be able to say that I’ve been past the front desks of some tech companies–in most cases, you need a badge to get any farther, for confidentiality reasons–I constantly think of how different life was (and still is) just minutes away from the Silicon Valley that most people know. I grew up next to these incredible places and yet, I never experienced any of the glitz and glamour. This is because I grew up in East Palo Alto–a city that was dubbed “the murder capital” of the United States in the early 90s. This unfortunate title is not something to be proud of; however, it does clearly demonstrate the vast differences that can exist between adjacent cities. To be fair, East Palo Alto has come a long way since the 90s and is now a safer place to live (it’s still no Palo Alto, but trust me, it’s better). I’m not an expert on the history, economy, or financial details of the city where I grew up, but what I do have are stories.
I was always aware that my family and most people that we knew did not have a lot of money or a college education. To me, living in a bedroom–not an apartment with one bedroom, not a house with one bedroom, I mean just a bedroom with a closet–was normal. Asking for help with my homework was out of the question because I was the oldest, my parents didn’t speak English, and even if they did, they hadn’t gone to school for very long anyway (my dad left school to begin working in the ninth grade and my mom only got to the second grade). This isn’t just my story though, it’s the story of many others who grew up in East Palo Alto. Of course, these are all from my own perspective and memory. Others will have their own perspective to share.
I created this blog because I want to share a big piece of myself with the world and I hope that others can relate to these experiences. I never planned on staying in East Palo Alto for the rest of my life, but for better or for worse, this is where I grew up, this is the place that (among other things) shaped me into the person I am today, and this is where I call home.
*Check out the post titled “Walking” on page 17 of the East Palo Alto Today newspaper by clicking here!