Jesus Lopez had a problem. Jesus Lopez fought to fix that problem. What a difference his fight has made. The month and a half break I had between filming sessions with Jesus saw him successfully fighting to usher in all sorts of positive change in his home.
Below is a link to a video with highlights from the two filming sessions:
The difference between the two videos hardly needs explaining. The changes are palpable, noticed immediately, and (as far as video is concerned) both visual and aural. Jesus shifts from emitting a tense energy in the former video to exuding an air of calm in the latter. Though perhaps not affected consciously, his wardrobe seems to express his mood in both videos: from the revolutionary energy that fuels the former (as reflected by Jesus’s revolutionary tee) to the relatively relaxed vibe of the second (reflected in Jesus’s Hawaiian shirt). And the problems of the former (best represented by Jesus’s bathroom) have largely been addressed in the latter. Even the audible hum from the generator in the former video is quieter in the latter.
While Jesus has had the benefit of some much-needed attention paid to his family’s apartment, his fight is not over. The more threatening health issues of mold, mildew, improper insulation, and a lack of privacy have been addressed, but still lingering are a few noisome items like improper tiling, and a nagging fear of another electrical fire (he experienced one this past March). He and his family have been comforted by some much-appreciated stopgaps, but a major problem still exists:
The system that forced Jesus’s problems to a head is still in place.
This is a system that privileges the few at the expense of the many. Encouraging landlords to investigate and fix issues that pose a threat to health and safety should not be something for which tenants have to fight.
Unfortunately, “should not”s do not equate to real world truths until something is done. And that is why Jesus’s fight is so inspirational, and why it must be continued.
As tenants, we can look to Jesus’s example and demand an end to unfair practices that threaten our health and safety. Our fight will help define our community and solidify our stature as a group that cannot be trampled. And, like Jesus, an excellent way to begin that fight is by telling our stories and increasing the exposure shed on dangerous living conditions.
From a light in a dark place to a sunny day, we, like Jesus, must be the change that moves the light from internal to external. As Jesus said, “Before I was in dark, I was in pitch black before. Now we have light.”
But we only have light because of Jesus’s fight.