Dear Dr. Rios:
My name is Alex Ramirez. My reputation is some people will think I am annoying but at the same time a nice guy. I have been working hard and getting my education at the same time. I have just finished chapter 8 “A True Gangster” of your autobiography Street Life. When I started reading the book you wrote, I didn’t think that you would face so many challenges. As an immigrant, I connected to you crossing the border too. At first, I thought you only had lived in Oakland or were born in Oakland.
So far, the work I have done with your book is annotating for imagery to understand more how you felt. I have also done voice recordings and have already posted them on the Youth Voices blog. I feel worried about different parts of your story that you shared in the chapters titled “The Snake Belt” and “A True Gangster.”
In chapter 7, when you said, ”I came home that day to my mother standing at the front door, half of her face covered by the shadow of the splintering wooden door. “Donde has Estado?” I looked down at the layers of caked dirt on my pants, and brushed at them nervously.” (pg, 34) I want to ask you, Dr. Rios, why did you lie to your mother, or not tell her that you were at work? It would have been easier if you had told her and you wouldn’t get in big trouble. Also, you said “To make my mother proud, to thank her for keeping me alive and sheltered, I decided to go back to school.” Dr. Rios, I’m glad that you ended up listening to your mother because she was right. School is more important than anything else.
Then I read chapter 8 where you said ”I felt like a man. My bicep muscles had grown big from pushing all those lawn mowers while I was gardening; I wore a white, thank-top shirt to show off my muscles” (page 39). And I thought about feeling so well when you have the body and showing it off to those who don’t have it. Lastly, you shared, “I don’t bang, man; I don’t even know what you talking about.” He looked at me cross-eyed and breathing heavily, and then he released the gun from my forehead and continued walking down the street” (page 42). I want you to know that it was good that you didn’t know anything about gangs because if you are a gangster you would have been killed from that time on.
It is a good book reading for some people who are having the same struggle as you did. I would hope to hear another story from you about how your life has changed through the time until now.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to hear from you,
-AlexTags: a letter Dr.Rios streetlife