Drop the masks
“It is like always carrying a part of home with me”, Jacinta smiles, while showing me one of the colourful handmade masks she sells in the streets of Los Angeles. Jacinta is from Mexico, and even though she has been living in Los Angeles for more than 20 years now, her heavy Mexican Spanish accent makes her sometimes difficult to understand.
“These are the famous masks for Lucha Libre, a popular sport in Mexico”, she tells. Lucha Libre literally means ‘free fighting’ because the wrestlers remain anonymous until the winner tears off the loser’s mask. It’s a heavy and spectacular sport. Names as ‘The mystery King’ are the reward of victory.
Jacinta left home in search of a more prosperous future and managed to compromise economic improvement with the longing for her country by selling the notorious Lucha Libre masks.
Over the years and with the increasing immigration, the American and Mexican cultures begin to entwine. Just like the Mexican Lucha Libre influences the American wrestling, and vice versa. But even after more than 20 years Jacinta does not feel at home in LA, and still has to deal with the difficulties of being a Mexican immigrant. “We have a hard life. Better than in Mexico, that’s true. But LA is supposed to be ‘home’ – it just does not always feel like that.” The situation is complicated. Many immigrants illegally crossed the border but still benefit from US government support in form of education and health. Of course this creates tension amongst the tax payers, which in cases results in bias against the Mexicans. It clearly is an important issue in California, nearly 40% of its population being of Hispanic origin.
Meanwhile, Jacinta keeps on selling her country’s culture in the heart of Los Angeles – against better judgement?
(report by OUR flying reporter Dorian Kronenwerth)