By Brent E. Beltran
Juanito held the rock firmly in his hand—almost too firmly, as his knuckles turned white from the pressure. He stood there shaking, and tears slowly fell from his reddened eyes. A wheezy cough escaped his tight lungs as the eleven-year-old stood on Harbor Drive facing the towering cranes that loomed over this toxic barrio. Every breath he took was a challenge. The setting sun cast a powerful glow of purples and oranges across the radiant, polluted sky.
He had grown up on these neglected streets, a Barrio Logan native in more ways than one. He stood there with rock in hand as semi trucks rumbled past, hauling bananas picked by people that looked just like him. The vehicles added more pollutants into the atmosphere as they traveled to various points north and east. That rock, smooth from centuries of ocean water beatdowns, weighed heavy in his trembling hand. [Read more…]