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People of Lincoln Heights: Esperanza Deloya

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Tuve una tintorería pero ahora sólo tengo una agencia. La tintorería no la pude cuidar, y me quede con la agencia — para limpiar ropa, de todo tipo de ropa. Tenemos la planta en otro lado, y así seguimos operando. Aquí llevo 20 años en este lugar.

Para empezar cuando yo llegué aquí, se decía que había mucho crimen, muchos robos y toda esa cosa. A mí nunca me han faltado al respeto, para nada. Todo lo contrario. Si le pregunto algo a uno de los muchachos que supuestamente son vándalos me contesta correctamente. Yo pienso que depende como se tratan para que se hagan malos. Y el grafiti aquí es muy común. Yo tardé mucho tiempo para que me pusieran grafiti. Hoy tengo una mancha en la reja donde entra el carro. Pero son las pandillas que vienen de afuera. Y no lo he borrado para que los de aquí se enteren que anda gente ajena aquí. Por eso no le he borrado porque luego lo lavo, pero hoy no. Lo dejé.

Mi gente, para mí es muy buena. Todos me respetan, salgo a caminar. No salgo ya de noche, pero antes sí. He sido feliz aquí. Esa es mi experiencia de Lincoln Heights.

Ahora es calmado. No se oyen gritos, no se oyen balazos.  Antes sí, ahora ya no. Ya no se oye una bala por ahí.

Translation:

I used to own a dry cleaners but now I only have an agency. I couldn't take care of the dry cleaners anymore so I kept the agency--we wash clothes, all types. Our plant is off site, that's how we're able to keep going. I've been in this location for 20 years.

When I first arrived here people said that it was crime infested, lots of robberies and all that stuff. I've never been disrespected here, for anything. On the contrary, if I ask something of a young man, who supposedly is a bad kid, they always answer me with manners. I think whether they become bad kids or not depends on how you treat them. And graffiti around here is very common, but it was years before I received a tag on my wall. I actually just got tagged, on the gate to the driveway. But it's from a gang that's not from around here. That's why I haven't painted over it yet, because I want the locals to see that there are outsiders in their neighborhood.

For me, my people are good people. Everyone respects me. I don't go out at night anymore but I used to. I've been happy here. That's my experience in Lincoln Heights.

It's calm here now. You don't hear screams, and you don't hear bullets. Back in the day, yes, but no anymore. You won't hear a single bullet around here.    

The above interview is transcribed and edited from the following interview:

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