A History Observed

by Izaak Garcia

The scent of various spices and aromas travels around the room, filling your nostrils and turning the heads of family and friends. Someone says, “OH Lawd, have mercy! You got this kitchen smelling good, don’t you?” It’s one of the best things you could hear from your Black family right before Thanksgiving is served. You look around at all the ingredients that were used in this beautiful medley of food—from collard greens, chitterlings, and turkey, to peach cobbler and, of course, sweet potato pie. You look up again, away from the food, and see everyone’s faces. Some are smiling, the wrinkles creating maps across their faces. Some are laughing—a sound that could fill an entire stadium with love. And some are like you, looking around, just enjoying one another’s company. As you all gather around the dinner table, with everyone’s hands interlocked, there is no other place in the world you would rather be.

A couple thousand miles to the south, there is a house in Mexico. Outside the house, the air is hot, the sun beats down on the pavement, and every time a small lick of wind blows by it is a blessing. A few cars scatter the length of the street, and the houses stand stoically side by side, unyielding. You look across the street and there is an old man with a straw hat, sitting in a plastic chair on his porch, waving his hat and fanning the hot air onto his creased face. It is lonely. No one else is walking down the street, and not even a stray cat can be seen slinking between the shade of the houses. But, inside the house, the atmosphere changes instantly—you are greeted by aromas that you did not even know could exist. The bass of the reggaeton music beats relentlessly to the rhythm, and some family members are even dancing, laughing as they do so. Spanish words fly around the room. A member of the family tells someone else to do this or that— to add more salt to the soup, more spice to the tamales, or scolds the younger ones for creeping too close to the desert table, thinking they can get a small taste of the sweetness that is going to come.

These are interactions with my family and friends. This is my culture, my people, and my history. It isn’t the history of how they came to America, or their struggle for civil rights, or even their story of where they came from. It is the history that they are making right now and the memories that will stay with me and the other young children for a lifetime. All people of the world have their histories and stories of their ancestors. As the upcoming generation, understanding these histories will help us go farther than anyone before us. And all we need to do is share them with each other.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a senior at Richwoods High School, enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Garcia plans to study Computer Science. He has played soccer with FC Peoria and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and Computer Science for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two total productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new coding languages, and video games.

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