Faces of Milpas

These are all elements of the creator. Right? This one entity. This being. Something that's mysterious. Something that's out there created this. And you bring these four things together, water (fire, air and earth), that's just four little things that can put me on the floor. . . . That's a humbling experience. After that, I started thinking, "Man, I ain't shit. I've got some street knowledge, and I can hold my own out here in this world, but when it comes to the grand scheme of life, I ain't about shit, man."

So that right there, that's humbleness, man. That's when you start thinking, I ain't Mr. Fucking Indio no more. I'm just Mr. Indio. I just have to try to hold my own and try to make it in this world and leave something behind and teach that to these youngsters.

So that right there starts changing you, little by little.

Joe Romero and Myra Rosales with their children (from left) Vanessa Rosales, Joeanna Romero, Evonna Rosales and Benjamin Romero.
Paolo Vescia
Joe Romero and Myra Rosales with their children (from left) Vanessa Rosales, Joeanna Romero, Evonna Rosales and Benjamin Romero.

Another ceremony I do is the Sundance.

We dance up there (at Big Mountain on disputed lands of the Hopi and Navajo nations). It changes your whole outlook on life. I did it four days, and I've done it three times already. Each time you go there, you change as a person. You become something different. You're not the same any more.

One of the big things that keeps hitting me stronger and stronger is compassion. Compassion. That's something that's so strong, so strong, that can change you. When you have love for something, and you care about something, and you believe in it, and damn, man.

Like before, I could watch TV and you see all these things happening out there. "Stupid muthafucka, he did that." Or a little kid dies, oh man, that's fucked up, the fucking kid dies. That was my mentality before, right.

And now when I look at it, okay, here's another stage that took place. "Aw, that poor kid, man, that stupid muthafucka, he should be killed, fucking punk, ass bitch. Why did he go and do something like that?" Then it changed even more. I started crying.

Like that little kid that got burned the other day. Man, that really hurt me. Not only did that hurt me, but that man, who did it, I didn't feel hatred for that man. I felt sorry for that man. He must be going through some shit in his mind that's hurting him so bad that he doesn't -- whatever it was man, I feel sorry for that guy, too.

And for his family. I started tripping on myself, saying, look at me man, I'm starting to feel sorry for all these people. And before, it would be, "Ah, he burned that little girl. That's crazy." You know? That's the kind of mentality that's changing me.

NT: How do these lessons apply to the LCM homeboys?

RM: All these kids, I grew up with, when I was older. With Lito, with Fat Ray, Felix the Cat . . . I was cool with that dude. I hung out with Felix (Medina). I knew Felix since he was a kid. Man, that fucking guy, I still love that guy. But, oh, man, that fucking guy, because of what he did with the neighborhood and the things that he did over there. Man, I hurt so much over what happened over there with these boys, man. Because we had these boys -- they were far from being like us. But they had an understanding, and that thing sticks to you -- whenever you teach them about something. We had barrio runs, a couple of them been to the sweat lodges. They were learning a lot of things. All of a sudden, this fucking fool (Medina) goes in there and just turns everything upside down.

And now, I can't even talk to some of those guys, because we just don't see eye to eye anymore because of what happened to Felix and the neighborhood. Like it said in the article ("Marked Man," October 14, 1999), he (Medina) turned the neighborhood into factions. It's not so much a split. We are all still LCM. We are still LCM to the heart. But we just can't, because of things that happened, we just can't go and be the same like it used to be.

NT: How did Felix influence the homeboys?

RM: We all hung with the Cat. We are all homeboys, man. We all hung out. But there was a split there because some of us said, you know, some of us were like, "Man, you don't have to hang out with that fool, because he's wrong." This was how I see it, he was wrong with what he was doing.

NT: What?

RM: He did some shit to his own people, his own people, he did some shit that he just shouldn't have done. You don't do that to a homeboy. I'm not going to say what it was. But, he did some things to his own homeboys that he shouldn't have done. For us, some of the homeboys, the way we seen it, we turned our back on him. We said, "You know what? You're going to act like that with your own homeboys, well then fuck you. You're not our homeboy." Well, he's still my homeboy. But I'm not going to associate with him anymore. That's how we seen it. But those other ones, they were like, "He's a homeboy and we got to back him up. . . ." So they stayed hanging out with them. You know, that right there, caused the neighborhood to split.

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