On October 30th, 2021, the Mexican-American Communities (SOCL B235) class went into the South Philadelphia neighborhood to visit, hear stories from migrants who work and live in the area, and celebrate Dia de Muertos. The parade was a part of South Philly’s Dia de Muertos celebration that led everyone into a parking lot, where there were many vendors, food, and lots of music and dancing. As the daughter of Chinese migrants, my parents moved to a predominantly white community to find work, so we were never able to celebrate our festivals, and I always felt embarrassed when my classmates would ask me about them.
This photograph speaks loudly to me; I see generations of migrants who are not afraid to be themselves, children who will grow up in an environment where they are able to learn about their culture, and that the Mexican migrants have found their community in South Philly.
As we have learned in the course, to make the U.S. feel like home to them, they need to
build community, they become transnational families, and that nostalgia products are more
available to migrants. By building community, it means that it will take longer, if at all, for
migrants to assimilate into American society; because they become transnational families, they
are still connected to Mexico; and with that connection, they are able to purchase nostalgia
products, which are products that remind the migrants of home that are unavailable in the U.S.
One of the films that we watched in class was Adelante, which is based in Norristown, PA; we
saw that Mexican migrants attended St. Patrick’s, which was originally a church for the Irish.
However, when the population began to decline, there was an increase of Mexican migrants who began to attend, resulting in a church for Spanish speakers, as the priest had learned Spanish for the service. Additionally, the church became a place for the migrants to celebrate their recreation of festivals and cultural events, such as Quinceañaras, Weddings, and Posadas. Which relates to the photograph, as we can see the South Philly migrants celebrating Dia de Muertos, and be assumed that they also celebrate the other events.
In some ways, seeing the photograph and going into South Philadelphia on October 30th,
made me feel at home. Despite being Chinese-American, not being from an area with a large
Mexican population, and growing up in a predominantly white community, this was the first time where I truly saw a culture outside of American society being celebrated in the U.S., which also meant that I was unable to celebrate my own cultural roots, but because I was also embarrassed about it, I felt disconnected to my own culture. When I see this photograph, it means that older second-generation immigrants, like myself, will see the younger second-generation grow up in a space where their culture is celebrated and not criticized. It feels safe knowing that the younger generation will remain connected to their roots and that they will grow up in the community.