Author: Fabiola Manriquez

Photo Illustration

Heaven Knows

I remember my brother Oscar and his friend Richard sneaking into Richard’s bedroom with the album under his armpit covered by his jacket. My parents decided to visit the Garcia family for a while on that Saturday afternoon in March of 1976. We kids attended Our Lady of Soledad School in East Los Angeles. “Hey Oscar, there’s a record player in here,” Richard said. Then I heard music and snuck a peek to see what they were up to. “It sounds so nasty, play it again.” This went on for about 20 minutes, the moaning and groaning accompanied by the erotic synchronization of “Love To Love You Baby,” by Donna Summer. This was the first time I heard her name. Raised in East Los Angeles in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, we lived in the barrio with gangs and violence. Prejudice and bullying at school and home made life unbearable for me most of the time. My mother had an iron constitution and my father was an alcoholic. They were dedicated to their family and …

Story Illustration

Echoes From The Past

One day, when I was in second grade at Brooklyn Avenue School, I was at lunch, which they called nutrition. I happened to put back a cookie that I didn’t want and decided to get another one. Before I knew it, my teacher, Ms. Childs grabbed me by my shirt, threw me against the wall, and called me a dirty Mexican. I was terrified to say anything or do anything so I froze there against the wall. I told my mother upon arriving at home and a couple of days later found myself in a meeting with a group of people all dressed in business suites, and known as the administration. Ms. Childs and my mother were there as well. I was brought into the meeting to give my testimony for a minute. I told them what had happened. Later I noticed that the school administration and Ms. Childs treated me with more respect. I remember that same year being stabbed with a pencil and being pant sing in the school playground by a white …

Image for Warriors Story by Fabiola

Warrior of East L.A.

I remember Flaca walking into the computer lab with her white t-shirt, khaki shorts that met her tube socks at her knees, her fancy leather black belt, her slick dark sun glasses and her checkered red and beige long sleeve shirt. She looked like a cholo. She took her time walking across the room, scanning the computer lab as though preparing for battle. When she finally reached my desk, she handed me a referral from a government program she was forced to enroll in and said, in a low voice, “Hey Miss. I’m here to get help with my Math and English, so what do I do”? I was recruited into the tutoring program by my trigonometry professor at East Los Angeles College since I often enjoyed assisting classmates. I remember Flaca sitting in front of the computer simply staring at the screen. I thought she was struggling with the operation of the computer. I learned later that she would come to class intoxicated and brought her happy juice. It was a thirty- two ounce …

Fabriola Manriquez Story Illustration

Warrior In The Fields

I remember that morning. I was 11. I watched from my bedroom window as cars, vans, and motorcycles parked in Al’s Produce across the street on Brooklyn Avenue, (now Avenida Cesar E. Chavez) and Kern. Teenagers and adults together chanted “Don’t buy the grapes!! Huelga, huelga.” The red flags with the black eagle fluttered in the wind as the number of protestors grew. It was September 16, 1977 – Mexican Independence Day, and in East L.A. we were preparing for our annual parade. Some blew their whistles like football referees. Others walked back and forth shouting ‘Si se puede!’, (Yes, we can). Before long, there was no place to park on the corner parking lot and the overflow began to park on Kern Avenue. Many folks were dressed in psychedelic clothes. Later that morning, my parents drove my brother, Oscar, and me near my school on Dozier Street. I stood in front of Our Lady of Soledad Elementary School dressed in my school uniform and Oxford shoes and waited my turn to walk in the …