1/9/09

SPORTS AND BARRIO RIVALRY

During the 1930s and 1940s community-based baseball clubs sprung up in many Southern Califas Barrios and Colonias, introducing Chicano youngsters to America’s national pastime at a time when Mexican-American sports heroes were few and far apart. But unlike the baseball clubs sponsored by employers and Anglo social reformers who sought to use baseball clubs to Americanize and socially control the Mexican population, the Barrio baseball clubs turned things around, and in the face of racial discrimination and limited opportunities that afflicted the Mexican-American population in the agricultural-industrial cities and towns, baseball took on a symbolic and real social significance. Chicanos used baseball to proclaim their equality through athletic competition, without fear of reprisal, and to publicly demonstrate community solidarity and strength. Mexican-American peloteros took to the diamond fields every weekend afternoon to play independent sandlot. Barrio baseball teams would travel to other Barrios and play other Barrio teams. Just about every large Raza Barrio had a baseball team. These Barrios adopted names for themselves and they played on dirt fields. They played on fields adjacent to rail road tracks, on factory yards, on empty open tracts of land or wherever they could find room to play ball. In Orange County, the Barrios from San ‘Tana, Plasencia, Anaheim, La Habra, Westminster and Stanton would meet regularly. Sometimes even far away teams from Corona, Temecula or Carlos Malo (Carlsbad) would come down to play the local teams from La Naranja.

Mexican-Americans used baseball clubs to promote ethnic consciousness, build community solidarity, display masculine behavior, and sharpen their organizing and leadership skills. In this regard, Chicanos transformed baseball clubs into a political forum to launch wider forms of collective action. But the youngsters, the peewee generations of players from the different Barrios, turned the diamond field brawls and rumbles into long lasting rivalries that eventually turned deadly when they substituted gloves and balls with guns and bullets.

A Classic example would be the rivalry between La Colonia and Big Stanton..


A group of Homies in Barrio La Colonia Independencia sought refuge from the afternoon heat in the shade of a Garza Avenue porch in Anaheim. “You talk to those vatos in Stanton, they act all bad, but they’re all talk.” Said one of the vatos who had VLCR—an acronym for Varrio La Colonia Rifa—etched on his knuckles.

A mile west on Katella Avenue on a Rose Street porch, a similar group of youths who call themselves Big Stanton echoed their rivals from VLCR. “La Colonia think they're bad, but they only know how to flash guns,” a vato from Big Stanton said.

Since the 1930s, the Varrio Homeboys of La Colonia and Big Stanton have been trying to outdo one another. The rivalry was forged on baseball fields, moved to fashionable cars and clothes, and for the past decades has focused on drugs, guns and killings. And despite all the grieving, and all the efforts of Barrio residents, police and community programs, no one has been able to answer the question. When will it all end?

Those growing up in La Colonia and Big Stanton today have more in common —their Mexican heritage, previous generations who labored together in the fields of Orange County and a common lifestyle— than most other young people growing up in Orange County neighborhoods.

But instead of sparking kinship and camaraderie, those similarities have fueled bitter fighting and bloodshed.

How do you take a youngster and tell him to not do what his older peers, their uncles and cousins have committed?

How do you tell them to stop the gang violence?

“It’s almost impossible!”


“Two households, both alike in dignity, from an ancient grudge break to a new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”

2 comments:

LiL SadeyeZ said...

but why so much hate?

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