California Surfing: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

Tiny - Posted on 05 January 2021

By Akil Carrillo


Living in sf was never easy. It was very different from life in Guatemala. Guatemala is the place where the sun hugs you, where the sky rains honey. The first thing I noticed when I arrived in San Francisco was that the sun has its back turned, the superficial sunlight. I still learned to love SF as I slithered in its culture. Here in SF I was able to have a family, I knew the streets and the streets knew me. 


There was only one thing that brought uncertainty in SF and that was housing. I began to get accustomed to moving. It practically became our tradition. I would get excited to see our new house and get bored of houses that lasted longer than 2 years. I was young and oblivious to the situation we were in. While I was living in someone's basement with my dad I was too busy trying to catch flies to realize we were on food stamps. 


My dad was born in Guatemala in 1979. In this year Guatemala was in a civil war/genocide. Because of this he fled and grew up in places like Nicaragua and Cuba. Finally around the age of 16 he returned back to Guatemala, where he began to fight against imperialism. 


I grew up there for 5 years until my parents got divorced. When that happened my mom moved us to the US while my dad stayed behind. It took my dad a whole year until he came. It wasn't easy for him to get here, there are lots of laws and paperwork one has to go through to just get a chance to come here. “The United States has been my enemy all my life, I’ve always fought against imperialism” said my dad, he had to deal with the fact that he was gonna go live and become a gear in this imperialist, capitalist system. He always had blamed the US for his fathers death and for the deaths of hundreds of Guatemalans during the Guatemalan war. He realized that he never grew up with his father and didn't want his son to grow up the same way.


My mom has a complete opposite story. She was born into a family of money. She grew up in New Jersey and had both parents. She lived a movie life, and was raised in the suburbs. Everyone has their struggles and most of hers came from the fact that she was a woman in a patriarchal system. The older she got the inequalities of the world became more obvious to her, so she chose to go to Guatemala to learn spanish and how to be a revolutionary. There she met my father and became conscious of the issues of the world. 


I said I was born in SF but had my first birthday in Guatemala. I moved to SF permanently at age 5. Growing up as a mixed kid with no family was difficult, but there were lots of mixed people in the mission which helped me get through most stuff. The older I got, I began dealing with falling into patriarchal habits. Since I'm a male I'm privileged in that sense. Every day I have to make sure I don't fall back into those habits. Dealing with my confusing race and with anger isn't easy. I had a lot of confusion growing up.


When I joined Deecolonize Academy I began to learn more about what it means to be mixed race. A class taught by Junebug really helped bring up questions and answers. Lots of things were put to perspective. I always struggled when people asked me “What are you?” I never knew what to say, I also struggled with what race to identify as. But in that class I learned to accept both races and identify as both. In Deecolonize Academy there was also an anger management class. We all have different stories and struggles and in this class we have the space to open up and receive and give advice or experiences. It helps to learn other people’s stories and gives lots of perspective.


All these experiences have made me who I am today. I wouldn't change a thing.


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