Interview of Azucena Ortega

Interviewer: 00:41 Nice. All right. So the first question that I asked you is your name and the spelling.

Azucena: 00:50 Alright. So my name is Azucena Ortega, A-Z-U-C-E-N-A. Last name Ortega O-R-T-E-G-A.

Interviewer : 00:59 All right. Are we supposed to be timing?

Interviewer : 01:05 Timing it?

Interviewer : 01:05 Yeah.

Interviewer : 01:06 I think you are. It’s what I heard.

Interviewer : 01:08 We are? Who got the timer?

Interviewer : 01:10 Okay.

Interviewer : 01:10 I’ll have to time me. I’ll time it though. That way you can do your thing. I got you.

Interviewer : 01:15 Okay. So it’d be a 15 minute thing. They try not to make it too long. Okay. So on this map that will you, can you see light where you live, where you work, anything like that?

Azucena: 01:29 Let’s see. So this is Lindel. I used to live on knowledge and Gerard, I lived on 26 and Aldrich. Now I’m on 617 Thomas, this is you rock, this pen. So I probably live like around right over here. Here. Let’s see some around over here.

Interviewer : 01:54 All right.
Azucena: 01:55 MM-hm.

Interviewer : 01:56 Okay. So thinking back from when you first had came to this area today. What changes have you seen now? It can be positive and negative.
Azucena: 02:04 Well, so my family came here to the United States when I was a year old and since we lived here, we’ve always lived on the north side. We used to live, I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with the native American projects that come was over by where the Mississippi original park is that. So it used to be projects there before the project on the north side came about. So I remember we lived there and those projects were dismantled and I think that they g ave families like a certain amount of money to be able toleave. And my parents, and they’re buying their first home on 26th and Aldrich.

Azucena: 02:44 That area right now, are you guys familiar with 25th and Aldridge where they build the school?

Interviewer : 02:47 I grew up on 23rd.
Azucena: 02:48 Okay. So after that we moved to Dowling and Gerard and then I ended up buying my house on sixth, six and Thomas, and that’s where my significant grew up. So what changes have I seen? A lot of changes, a lot of changes both good and bad. But I would say like right now the changed that I’m seeing is just the gentrification on the north side. I’m seeing a huge shift and change and the people that are buying the properties and who now are my neighbors. And one thing that I think is really interesting is like if you have a dog, you should walk your dog facts, right? But I’m starting to see a lot of people walking their dogs and a lot of people that I know that weren’t in this neighborhood this entire time.

Azucena: 03:36 So it’s just really interesting to see that dynamics. Like I said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing cause it’s, you know, it’s good, but it’s just like I’m seeing a lot of white folks walking their dogs and their neighborhood now and I never used to see that before. So I think the main thing is the gentrification on the north side. On the positive note, I am seeing a lot of community come together when it comes to the arts and just really being more open about what’s happening on the north side and how we can be inclusive in some of the organizations that are trying, not trying but shifting and changing the way North Minneapolis looks. So that’s, that’s great. So juxtaposition is one that I had been really just impressed with the work that they had been doing in the community. I think that we have to reach out to youth, that that’s our next generation to really create the changes that we want to see in our communities.

Interviewer : 04:25 Alright. Why do you feel like these changes are happening?
Azucena: 04:28 Which ones?

Interviewer : 04:29 All of them.
Azucena: 04:31 Well I think I kind of touched already maybe a little bit. As far as the community we want to see, we want to see a change and we want to make sure that those that are on the north side stay on the north side. As far as the gentrification I think is just an opportunity that people are seeing that there is. So capitalizing on, you know we have here in our communities.

Interviewer : 04:53 All right. Okay so, we are gathering information to understand the city of Minneapolis in the community in the impact on the historical discrimination, government policies such as employment, the war on drugs, housing and like other things like that. So we wanted to know how
did that impact you or the community itself? Like what have you seen personally?

Azucena: 05:25 Could we rephrase that question?

Interviewer : 05:27 Yeah. So basically those things, those policies, the war on drugs, employment, housing, transportation even, and just like things in the 1990s how did that effect impact you or the community?
Azucena: 05:41 So I think first there is a lack of education on all those points that you brought right now. Even for myself, you know, I’m 37 years old and I feel like there has been a big disconnection with some of those policies war on drugs, transportation. And now I feel like I’m getting more involved in what’s happening just because there’s a lot of like our team and a lot of other organizations that are really trying to do community engagement and have people be aware about what’s happening. So like the Harvard for an example or something happening with the, what is it called? NCR Neighborhood Community relations, the 2020 so there’s all these things that are happening and I just think that we need to continue to educate ourselves and be aware of what’s happening to really have more say so on how do we feel about these things and changes that are happening, if that makes sense. Does it make sense? Okay.

Interviewer : 06:38 Okay, so as far as the community now, what concerns do you have about it?
Azucena: 06:47 I think housing, affordable housing is one. I also think that bringing like employment to our neighborhoods and to the north side is really important. Just to make sure that you know that the money that’s like instead of going out for breakfast somewhere outside of the north side, let’s invest in the business that are already here and want to continue the business growth and finding other ways to make sure that people, that there’s just more employment on the north side. Could you read that question again because I had something else in mind and just kind of slipped my mind.

Interviewer : 07:27 What concerns do you have about the community?
Azucena: 07:30 What concerns? I don’t know if I have any like specific concerns that come to mind right now, so we’ll just leave it like that.

Interviewer : 07:44 Okay. What gives you hope for the future of this community?

Azucena: 07:53 You all, that are doing what you’re doing right now? Because I think that this work is important. Education is power and the more that we can inform ourselves, the better position that we can be in to really make an impact and change.

Interviewer : 08:07 All right. And then is there anything, any last words that you want to say?
Azucena: 08:14 Any last words that I want to say. I feel like you’re putting me on the spot right now. So I know that Martine talked about some of the history that has happened here with the riots on Plymouth and I think that my daughter was actually a part of a research history on that. And I think, I think that it would be a good idea to further expand on that education piece, especially with the recent events that seem to have happened. And it just seems like it’s keeps happening in just different ways, different times. And, and I think it’s important to talk about those things because we have historical trauma generational trauma and trauma within, you know, the room and our experiences and these things are just being swept under the rug and there’s been much conversation about it.

Azucena: 09:12 So, like I said, I’ve been on the north side for a long time and I have had … being who I am, you know a woman. I’m very light, you know, and Latina, I have like over 36 moving violations as far as like speeding tickets. If there was a time on the north side back in the day where like they were trying to dismantle the gangs and I just remember that I got pulled over so many times just for looking like I was part of the Latin Queens. And you know, I’d be riding with my homegirls and then they would ended up giving me tickets for … I remember this one time I got eight tickets. And I’m just like eight tickets for what? So it just, it was just this continuous thing that happened and I think that it, my brother and I’m getting like in one stop like 23 tickets
and all of a sudden those tickets like disappeared.

Azucena: 10:05 So it was just like some weird stuff that was happening and I think that that project or whatever the police department was doing and kind of went away. But I’ve always had these issues, like I’ve been pulled over, I’ve been man handled by police officers. Like it’s just crazy. I’m just like, I’m a woman and I’m young and I’m just like, not, not that anybody should be going through that, but I’m just like, it was just really weird to have those experiences.

And like after the, the Demar Clark thing happened, we were part of the movement that was happening. You know, I brought my kids there and so it was both empowering and at the same time I was kind of like checking myself, should I be a part of. Just because there was, I remember there was one day where like you had police officers on top of the building and they had their guns pointed to like everybody. And I’m just like, that’s creating more trauma. But at the same time we have to stand up and speak up and making sure that we are standing in solidarity.

Azucena: 10:59 But circling back, I recently was pulled over after that at Brett on Plymouth and Thomas, I was making a left to go home and I jus remembered, I guess I had rolled over else the stop sign out and make a complete stop. And my son was so terrified and he literally was getting ready to open the door and just run. And I had to like, it was like a very scary moment for me, and he’s nine or he’s nine now. So he was what, seven at that time? And it was just like, it just, it just brought up a whole bunch of like triggers for me, you know, and really, really bad ones and ones that I didn’t think that still existed because times have changed for me at least. I don’t get pulled over like that anymore. How I used to. And it just brought up a whole bunch of things that really didn’t feel good at all.

Azucena: 11:45 So, you know. Yeah. So I guess I would like to see more conversation about those issues that have occurred and then just educating ourselves about what’s happened in the past and what we recently have experienced and how do we move forward and heal from that as well.

Interviewer : 12:07 All right.

Interviewer : 12:07 Yes. That was dope. Thank you. Thank you.

Interviewer : 12:07 Thank you. That’s all we have for you today.

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