Mi mamá y yo

Mi mamá

Arrived to Los Angeles, California with her two sisters and mother. My grandmother sold their home and belongings to pay for a coyote,so they can reunite with my grandfather who worked as a Bracero.

After settling and arranging their next trip, they began their journey to Chicago, Illinois.

My grandmother rented a small apartment for five people in La Villita on the south side.

Mi mamá found a job at a factory in Edgewater. She commuted everyday to and from work for almost two hours for a low wage and no benefits.At the young age of 18, she was work more than eight hours for six days a week.
Mi mamá wanted to go back home. I ask her, what do you miss about home? She says, “todo”.

“Ni de aquí, ni de alla”. So where do I go? I’m too Mexican for the United States, and too “American” for México. This inner conflict has been heard countless times that the authenticity of it seems to diminishes. However, the pain is very real.
I am not looking to fit in.
I am searching for the peace my ancestors did not find.


Meeting #6 08/08/2016


  • Lecture from Dr. Jesse Mumm on  The Latin American Migration to Chicago
  • Follow up on questions with geneticist Kerry Cochrane on how to use search engines to investigate public family records.

Lecture Notes from Dr. Mumms Lecure:

  • First mixed peoples of Chicago were the Metis (mixed French and Native)
  • 1900’s saw great labor migrations: The Great Migration and subsequent labor recruitment of different immigrant groups depending on the need of the US for labor

Two key concepts when thinking of our ancestors (and our) life choices:

    • Agency v. Structure

→ Culture v. Political-Economy

→ Personal Experience v. Cultural, Economic, Political, Social Experiences

  • So when we interview our relatives we need to balance what their personal experiences are and what was happening on the macro-level
  • Also, this concept helps us know that there may be societal expectations and cultural ones but that people often defy the norms. (i.e. women who smoke)

Research questions/ historical questions:

  • There are some big questions that you might want to ask your relatives. (i.e. Did the Irish see themselves as “white” upon arrival?) However, you probably do not want to ask your relatives directly about those big sociological questions about race. But there are kinds of questions that you can get ask that will solicit their stories that address your big question about race.
  • How you ask a question will determine what kind of stories you are going to get.
  • So instead you can ask questions about race, like:
    • Where did you live? Describe that place? Were most of your friends X (ie. Mexican/ Latinxs). Did you have friends that were not Spanish-Speaking? Where did you hang out and with who? What was the neighborhood like / feel like when you walked around it in 19xx?
    • Gender-based ones: Where did you work? What was that like? Did other women do that work?
  • What are some examples of bad questions: Yes/No questions, short-answer questions are horrible.
  • Good question form: Not yes/no or short answer. Not too general and not too specific.  Ask questions that ask you a story: Tell me about when….
  • Content: you want to ask questions that get your information you need, gets at core issues, and productivity *questions that get you to many kinds of answers.
    • “After you had your first two children, what concerned you the most?” (Jesse interviewing his grandma).
    • “Walk me through the day that xxx happened”
    • “Walk through me a day in your life when you were 25?”
    • “You tell me about a lot of the rancho, take me through the house, room by room.”
    • “Was it possible to get a job in management in those times?”
    • “What was it like to live in the second neighborhood compared to your first?”
    • You want questions about personal information, family, household, education, work
  • What’s a kind of story your family will not talk about?
    • You can ask: “What was life like before or after?”
  • Tricks of the Trade:
    • “Claiming ignorance” – saying you don’t know the story, or you want to hear about it from their point of view. “I don’t know what that’s about can you explain that to me?”
    • Express interest. I really want to know this.
    • Restating: INCORPORATING their words into your later questions.
    • Don’t interrupt them. Don’t over-explain what you know–let them tell you their experience.
    • Affirmations: let them know you are listening and that you are feeling them. You are part of the conversation, so let them know you are with them.


  • [We went over an interview with Arthur & Tamara Griffin – a couple who have lived for a very long time in Garfield Park in order to see how we can get to race /structural issues without directly asking the question in those overly academic ways].
  • Take 5 minutes to write down 3 basic questions that are open ended questions for a Latinx person living in Chicago?
    • What was the neighborhood like when you first arrived in 1965?
    • I love your food, I wonder what was it like for you to find food you liked to eat when you first came?
    • Who did you work with and what was your experience like with management?
    • Growing up how was your neighborhood like? What do you think about the changes? What do you miss?

Taking Notes / Documentation of your interviews:

  • Quotation: Direct, exact, word-for-word transcription. “ “
  • Paraphrasing: general ideas, accurate summary, in your own words. (….)
  • Jottings: ideas, places, dates, words, names, objects.

A note on “Dangerous Neighborhoods:

  • Some research demonstrates that Gentrifying hoods become more dangerous-

Ethics on researchers:

  • Some people are proud of what they’re saying and want their name
  • Some people want to be noted as a pseudonym (i.e. Exotica Jones)
  • Nameless – they want what they’re words noted but no identifying markers.
  • Redacted – they don’t want what they said to be shared at all!
  • Informed consent: the person knows you’re doing an interview and what it is for; and where this will be shared (scholarly articles, grant reports, blogs, perhaps a book, exhibits)

[Read the “Belmont Report – Summary on the Principles Relevant to the Protection of Human Subjects in Research].

Kerry Cochranewww.Familysearch.org

Meeting #3 07/18/2016


Session Objectives:

  1. Framing & big picture overview
  2. Review process and timeline
  3. Introduce Journey Guides
  4. Discuss ways we want to go on this journey together
  5. Introducing the ancient and ever-present power of storytelling
  6. Introduction to Genealogy
  7. Review the history of the creation and use of the concept of race
  8. Review the history of Latinxs in Chicago, specifically in the northwest side


  • 11am         Juliet & Violet: Welcome, Introductions and Icebreaker, Review Agenda
  • 11:20 am    Juliet/Violet: Group agreements  to create Safe Space
  • 11:35am     David: Framing & big picture overview,
  • 11:50am     Working Lunch
  • 12pm     David: The ancient and ever-present power of storytelling in our personal lives, the lives of our community, our organizations and as a tool to heal racial wounds.

Followed by first Storytelling assignment – Construct a short 3-5 minute story about what you have learned of your ancestor’s journey so far.

  • 1pm David: Interactive presentation on the history of the creation and use of the concept of race. Specifically the historical interconnectedness and impact of power and economics and racism on all people who reside(d) in America yesterday, and today.

First research and storytelling assignments: Consider the major social, economic and political conditions that shaped your ancestors’ decisions over the last 200 years.

  • 2pm Kerry:  Introduction to the Practice, Power, & Limitations of Genealogy

Question:  What are your hopes for this process?

  • Why We Do Genealogy?
  • How We Do Genealogy?
  • What sites are available to search for Latinx families?
  • What genealogical records are available?
  • What kind of information was included in these records?
  • What do we learn from the records?

Check-in:  How are you reacting to this process?

Genealogy Learning Outcomes

At the end of this project, you will know more about:

  • The value of genealogy as a way to connect with the strengths of our ancestors
  • How to search the major genealogy sites
  • How to find and document your family history
  • How to understand genealogical DNA test results
  • How your family history is part of your story

3:30pm Jesse Mumm: Latinxs in Chicago: waves of migrations, racialized housing

practices, a history of displacement and recreating home

4:45pm Juliet/Violet: Closing PAR Questions:

  • Jot down a few notes to yourself→ share in pairs→ Whole Group:What surprised you today?
  • Jot down a few notes to yourself→ share in pairs→ What do you want to learn more about?