Having been born and raised in Merced, California, molded the artist, and coincidentally the poet, that I am today.
I was able to witness the town of Merced evolve from a aesthetically clean, working family/blue collar community, to an unemployed, drug and homeless riddled, littered town.
In hindsight, I realize that it was bound to happen.
The rich, one percent, of this community are happily comfortable in their blissful ignorance turning the noses away from the rest, and, unfortunately the rest, are in a “mind forgd manacle state” too because they can’t see any other way to live. Their standards, for the most part, are polluted, just like the streets of London.
Welfare is handed out as a means to disillusion minorities, keeping them comfortably caught in a cycle of generational poverty.
Its ironic really. This vision Merced could potentially have on the map: The Gateway to Yosemite -known as one of the many “City of Trees of California” and also known as a sleepy town. Whats more, now that we have had the UC Merced campus in our town, it has contributed to that ideal that we have potential to become something. Or that, everything is okay.
And dont forget: never go on the other-side-of-the-tracks. At least, that is what they say.
But the other side of the tracks is where I come from. And while it consists of migrant families, farm labor workers, low income housing, as well as the working class, and is considered “hood,” i find it the most raw honest culturally rich community. However, when you do drive through it, you will see more homelessness, broken roads, cracked and raised cement sidewalks, than you do on the “better side of town.”
Most importantly, what you won’t explicitly see is the struggle, exploitation, and violent and impoverished cycle that keeps those tracks a strong divide between the good and bad side of town. This reminds me of Wiliam Blake’s “London.” And so I choose to write about the griminess of our town because just like that London, there is an implicit and explicit divide between social class, and living cirumstance:
“Windows with bars,
No rooms, just tombs
Broken hearts in jars.
Section 8 rent,
Summers are warm,
Police beats are hotter.
ICE and police sweeps swarm.
Gangs raising arms
Asking, ‘Where you from?’
Empty eyes, loaded gun.
Iiquor stores are coffee shops
blunt wraps, make them sicker.
Tagged jungle gyms
Filled with hidden sins.
keeping the ‘others’
-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez