As a Chicano and long-time resident of La Misión, it’s been painful and heart-wrenching to watch my Latin gente being displaced and priced out of their homes and the very neighborhood that they built. The Latin community is the heart and soul of the Mission.
Documenting, in visual form, the hyper-gentrification we’ve been experiencing has become a passion of mine. Virtually every week, when I’m able, I’m out there pounding the pavement and documenting the changes that I see occurring all around. I have taken more than 30,000 photographs to date— everything from people, homes, buildings, and protests, to signs of resistance (both literally and figuratively).
This project has also become an outlet and an empowering way for me to not only document what I’m witnessing, but also to express the anguish, heartache, and anger I’ve been feeling at the evictions and displacement of my friends and neighbors, the closures of numerous Latin businesses, the oppressive acts, and the daily micro-aggressions that I witness.
In 1990, people of color—predominantly Latino—made up approximately 72 percent of the Mission District’s population. That number had fallen to 57 percent by 2013, and is now only 48 percent. According to a recent report from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, if changes aren’t made soon, the percentage of Latinos residing in the Mission will drop to 31 by 2025. As the eradication of Latinos from the Mission continues, every day, many of us wonder, “Am I next?”
It is said that pictures are more powerful than words. May these images impress on you what my words cannot.
Story by: Drago Rentería