East of East

East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte

A Project of the South El Monte Arts Posse

Alfred Mendoza

Interview with Alfred Mendoza

Alfred was born at LA/USC Hospital to Mexican immigrant parents and raised on the south side of El Monte. Mother and father and were from Tijuana, father had been laid off from a metalwork plant before he was born and sought earnings from narcotic trafficking and gang activity. Became addicted to heroin and was imprisoned just before Alfred was born. Alfred grew up in the Klingerman Apartments (thought of as “the projects” and a rough spot in El Monte), was protected by gangs members who knew his father, but also had a straight-and-narrow stepfather who pushed him to work hard. Mother worked in textiles. He remembers the Klingerman Apartments as tough places, but also with a strong sense of community led by matriarchs in each building who collect rent and take care of families. Apartments were mostly Mexican and Mexican-American, but included some Cambodian immigrants. Twin older brothers became involved in gangs and addicted to meth, and were also imprisoned after many incidents. Alfred was a quiet student who endured discrimination in school but benefitted from bilingual education and later from Upward Bound program, which tracked him into college at UCSD (the summer he went to college, his brother went to prison). Alfred has since become a youth worker in Pasadena, just acquired his teaching license, and hopes to return to teach in his community.

Alfred Mendoza