East of East

East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte

A Project of the South El Monte Arts Posse

Mark Durazo

Interview with Mark Durazo

Mark Durazo graciously agreed to participate as a narrator in a teaching interview, with five high school students from the KCET Youth Voices program at Mountain View High School and the vice-president of La Historia. Mark is the son of first generation immigrants from Mexico. He spoke at great length about his youth in El Monte, which he described as “the last peaceful time” in the 1970s, despite the presence of gangs. As gang activity and policing became more serious and more violent, Mark lost friends to this activity: of his nine high school friends, only three remain alive, one of whom is in prison and one of who suffers from serious addiction. Mark also discussed the strong cultural divide between white and Mexican communities in El Monte, and the presence of racism and discrimination in many contexts. Mark’s mother owned a restaurant in El Monte. He became a DJ and performer in a band, and played backyard parties all around El Monte (among others, he remembers seeing Ice-T perform at these parties). Mark dropped out of high school, but has become a self-taught tech wizard and prides himself on the work he has done for many national corporations as well as for La Historia on a volunteer basis.

Mark Durazo