Tanya Lozano danced within the streets. It was election day and We Received Us, an arm of her group Wholesome Hood, was internet hosting a “Survival Day” on Chicago’s south aspect to encourage native residents to vote and take care of their well being. We Received Us provided scorching meals, flu pictures, HIV and COVID-19 testing, and containers of recent produce, freed from cost to those that confirmed proof of getting voted.
For the final 4 years, Tanya’s life has revolved round Wholesome Hood. The nonprofit goals to enhance the well being of Chicago’s most uncared for communities, beginning together with her native Pilsen, by applications addressing schooling, meals safety, health, and unemployment.
The 31-year-old’s dedication to civic activism is part of a household legacy spanning virtually 5 a long time. Her dad and mom are Reverend Slim Coleman and Emma Lozano, pastors at Lincoln Methodist Church in Pilsen. Earlier than establishing the church, Slim aided the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Occasion in creating the Rainbow Coalition, a multicultural group confronting inequalities confronted by marginalized communities. Emma’s work targeted on schooling and office injustices affecting undocumented and low-income communities. She staged week-long starvation strikes, sit-ins, and protests, barged in on native and nationwide authorities proceedings, confronted quite a few arrests, and was threatened by white supremacists at her doorstep.
A lot of Emma’s work came about alongside her brother, Rudy Lozano. Rudy was a distinguished Chicago activist identified for his efforts surrounding immigrant employees’ rights and key position within the election of Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington. Lower than two months after Washington’s win, Rudy was assassinated in his residence. Though Tanya by no means met him, Rudy deeply knowledgeable her life’s goal. “After I was little, I did not pray to God,” she says. “I prayed to my uncle.”
The Lozano legacy, spearheaded by three generations of unapologetic ladies activists, has not misplaced its hearth. By combining her mom’s experience and long-standing relationships with grassroots political leaders together with her personal trendy intersectional strategies, Tanya is pioneering a brand new wave of activism meant to bridge the struggles of Black and Latinx communities. “[Women of color] have all the time been on the heart of civil rights actions, however have by no means been acknowledged,” she says. “We’re adamant on ladies being the way forward for the motion.”
As a millennial activist, reverend’s daughter, dancer, and single mom of two, Tanya juggles many hats. Her Instagram story doubles as a vlog, documenting the layers of her nonstop life for her 10,000 followers. On any day, you may see her morning yoga flows, gospel music jams with daughter Apollonia, and video threads blasting corrupt political constructions or gushing over Gen Z’s influence whereas toking on a blunt from the steps of her household’s church. She speaks brazenly about how weed helped her by postpartum, noting the 5 marijuana vegetation within the Lozano residence backyard.
Tanya’s sharp facial options, seemingly easy style sense, and copious tattoos communicate volumes earlier than she utters a phrase. As soon as a critical five-foot-five ballplayer, she acquired her first tattoo—the Jordan jumpman—at 15. “It was a pleasure factor,” she tells me. “Proud to come back from this metropolis.” Fifteen years and 15 tattoos later, her physique doubles as a canvas, draped in pictures from the cultures that made her.
She has a sneaker assortment to behold, her closet lined with Jordans: Chicago 1s, Retro 6s, Satin 1s that includes the Shattered Backboard colorway, Los Angeles designer Melody Ehsani’s OG Jordan collaboration, Off-White X Jordan 1s retailing at over $2,000, and numerous different sold-out kinds. Whereas costly sneakers is perhaps unconventional for a socialist activist, Tanya says that her on-trend road fashion is activism in itself.
“I haven’t got to evolve to no matter individuals suppose activists are purported to seem like,” she tells me. “[What I wear] would not change what I am saying . . . it would not make what I am doing any much less efficient.”
Tanya’s style-conscious method has given the Chicana entrepreneur entry to company areas. She’s been invited to talk at occasions hosted by Nike, Nordstrom, Champs Sports activities, and the White Sox. In July, she hosted a TEDx Discuss on the development of resilient communities throughout disaster. She wore an all-white ensemble, together with Worry of God sweatpants, Jordan Retro 6s, and a gold Victorian nameplate necklace. When she spoke with Matthew McConaughey for a Wild Turkey bourbon marketing campaign bringing consideration to “native legends,” she sat starstruck in a leather-based jacket with the sleeves rolled up, revealing tattoos from her arms all the way down to her fingertips. Lately, she was named one among Chicago journal’s Chicagoans of the 12 months. For the unfold, Tanya was styled by her 18-year-old niece, Daysha del Valle.
“If something, individuals who gown like me and who got here from the identical neighborhood that I got here from can see themselves in me and say, ‘oh, that is a risk for me too,'” she says.
The aspect door of the Lozano’s blue-grey, two-story Pilsen residence offers easy accessibility to the household’s church. On the aspect of the house is a mural of Rudy, a present from the Lozano household to Emma. Till not too long ago, Tanya, her seven-year-old daughter Apollonia and toddler son Junie, her mom and father, adoptive brother, sister, niece, and the church’s upkeep man all lived underneath one roof.
Coming into the Lozano residence seems like strolling right into a historical past museum. Reasonably than commencement pictures and vacation group pictures, frames maintain awe-inspiring pictures of the household in a few of Chicago’s most iconic socio-political actions: Rudy’s political marketing campaign flyers emblazoned with the phrase “registrate y vota“; newspaper clippings boasting controversial headlines about Emma’s activism; pictures of the Slim embracing Fred Hampton; Emma standing alongside Mayor Washington; a child Tanya within the arms of Cesar Chavez. For the Lozanos, these pictures doc solely a fraction of their legacy.
Way back to Tanya can bear in mind, the church and their residence have been a refuge for household, buddies, and visiting activists. The latest houseguest was Miguel Perez, a previously undocumented U.S. veteran and Chicago activist most remembered for his high-profile deportation case following his return residence from battle. The Lozanos labored carefully with Perez’s authorized staff within the combat to convey him again to the nation following his deportation. After a protracted authorized battle, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker granted Perez clemency, partially on account of Pritzker’s political relationship with the Lozano household.
“They actually threw him away like fucking trash,” says Tanya. She explains that by advocacy, her household is just fulfilling their accountability to the group. “It is to be blessed with a burden. I used to be so conscious from such a younger age of injustice and I have been taught so some ways to fight injustice that I really feel like it could be fucking neglectful to not use that to assist individuals.”
In 2016, Tanya transformed the upstairs stage of the church into the headquarters for Wholesome Hood. What started as one-dollar Zumba courses is now a nonprofit that goals to “train the physique, educate the thoughts and awaken the aware” of marginalized communities. It’s residence to health courses (kickboxing, yoga, dance, amongst others), a group backyard full with cooking classes, medical assets like HIV testing, and group feeding initiatives. Health courses at Wholesome Hood come at a reduced fee of $5, whereas most providers are utterly freed from cost.
Tanya, together with co-founder and finest buddy Seobia Rivers, says that marginalized communities taking possession of their well being is a revolutionary act in itself. “In underserved communities . . . health and way of life steering is tremendous inaccessible or scarce,” Tanya says. There’s a 20-year life expectancy gap between prosperous communities and communities of colour in Chicago, making it the biggest disparity within the nation. Whereas rich residents of Streeterville dwell to be 90, residents of Englewood, solely 9 miles away, dwell to 60 on common. Wholesome Hood desires to shut this hole.
When the pandemic started, Tanya says well being disparities already confronted by low-income residents of her neighborhood had been exacerbated and authorities assets proved insufficient. Wholesome Hood shifted focus to We Received Us and since March the group has fed over 10,000 households by a biweekly meals supply program. Wholesome Hood’s Chief Strategist Estelle Lozano says that along with offering meals and assets, the nonprofit has, in collaboration with different native organizations, carried out over 30,000 free COVID-19 exams in a few of Chicago’s most weak communities.
“How do you count on to regulate this virus if these individuals are scared to even go to the physician?” says Tanya. “You’ll be able to’t maintain individuals within the shadows in the event you’re attempting to eradicate a pandemic.”
Between the pandemic and nationwide rebellion in opposition to police brutality, Tanya says that within the final 4 months, Wholesome Hood, which had 30 or so part-time staff funded by state grants, has grown by over 1,000 volunteers. “Social justice wasn’t a pattern, it wasn’t well-liked,” says Tanya. “And now the group has grown exponentially, so many extra individuals have woke up their conscience and need to contribute.”
Whereas unorthodox for a church household, the Lozanos view knowledgeable entry to marijuana as part of a wholesome way of life. Tanya says that explaining the battle on medication, the best way marijuana has been used as a device to disenfranchise and oppress Black and Brown populations, is vital to her. “Now that [marijuana] is authorized,” she says, “we’re educating individuals on it, and to not abuse it, to make it possible for we’re respecting it similar to we must always respect something that comes from Mom Earth.” Along with educating group members on the plant and using it to fight opioid dependancy, Wholesome Hood helps people discover a path to acquiring medical marijuana playing cards by connecting them with docs, says Estelle.
Whereas her efforts to enhance well being care are concentrated domestically, Tanya says that the solutions to home issues may very well lie internationally. Wholesome Hood has been in common contact with docs from the College of Havana, studying concerning the methods well being care is applied of their communities, with plans to use these strategies domestically.
For years, Cuba’s well being care system has been revered as some of the complete in Latin America on account of its preventive measures, community-based method, and free entry to assets. Tanya notes Cuba’s emphasis on treating bodily, psychological, and social ills collectively, slightly than with a fragmented method. “They actually resolve why individuals get sick, not simply coping with individuals’s signs after they get sick, and I believe that is the place our well being care system fails individuals,” she says.
Wholesome Hood is making ready to pilot a program that adopts Cuban strategies together with common at-home checkups and psychological wellness screenings with the five hundred households they have been feeding over the course of the pandemic. “We will pilot it with COVID testing however we’re additionally going to do screening for hypertension, diabetes, and bronchial asthma,” says Tanya. Wholesome Hood’s COVID reduction program is ready to lose funding. The group has arrange a petition, hoping to stress state officers to not minimize “the lifeline” to Black and Brown communities.
Sitting at a spherical picket desk tucked within the nook of her kitchen, Emma remembers her most horrific encounter with regulation enforcement. Her leg, injured in a current fall, is midway submerged in a scorching pink solid that matches her toenails. The 66-year-old activist, pastor, and two-time breast most cancers survivor is surrounded by eclectic relics: conventional artwork from Cuba and Mexico, crosses and ornaments bearing Bible passages, and a portray of her granddaughter Apollonia dressed up as Frida Kahlo, unibrow and all. It’s apparent that this is not Emma’s first time telling this story. She sweeps her bleached blonde hair behind her ear and lets out a brief sigh.
She begins telling me concerning the time she and a gaggle of moms, referred to collectively because the comadres, attended a gathering on the Daley Middle about overcrowding in Wicker Park’s Kosciuszko Faculty, which was 500 youngsters over capability. Lessons had been being taught in hallways, the gymnasium, boiler room, and cafeteria, the Tribune reported.
Two officers tried to disclaim the group entry to a public assembly. Inches away from the officers and holding one-year-old Tanya, Emma stood her floor. She says the burden of the moms lined up in opposition to her again pushed her into the officers. The comadres and three males who accompanied the group pushed previous the officers and scattered in, filling the accessible seats within the assembly area, many with their babies. Inside minutes, two elevators stuffed with officers stormed the gang. “The [officers] did not know what to do with us, many people being ladies breastfeeding and with children in strollers,” Emma says. “So that they went on to the three males.” In line with Emma’s account, the lads had been handcuffed and crushed by the police. Some comadres, undocumented and in danger for deportation, rushed to defend them.
The ladies ultimately retreated. Whereas exiting, Emma was all of the sudden surrounded by a gang of officers. “They informed me that if I didn’t flip [Tanya] over to somebody that she can be taken to the Division of Youngsters and Household Providers,” says Emma. “I used to be refusing to offer her up and I used to be refusing to be arrested.”
Out of worry for her little one, Emma surrendered and was taken to the basement of the Daley Middle. “I am going, ‘Everyone is aware of I am down right here, fucking attempt to contact me,'” she says, the same old trace of her Chicago accent swelling. “I stated, ‘You’s a bunch of mendacity sons of bitches.'” Fortunately, the story ended with a victory. A brand new college was constructed and named in honor of her brother Rudy.
Coming into the kitchen at 11 AM, Daysha del Valle sluggishly makes a cup of espresso for her grandfather. Her 3B curls are stuffed right into a hair tie on the high of her head, revealing shaved sides beneath. She apologizes for her matted look. Dragging her toes throughout the tiled flooring, Daysha is the final member of the Lozano residence to make it away from bed. She takes a seat subsequent to her grandmother. Regardless of having heard the story “like 30 instances,” the current highschool graduate listens attentively, reacting to each twist and switch as if she is listening to them for the primary time. “We have all gone by the identical stuff,” she says. “Keep in mind the time they arrested us?”
Emma chuckles earlier than transitioning to her subsequent story. In 2007, a five-year-old Daysha accompanied her grandmother and three buses stuffed with Latinx activists to the Rayburn Constructing in Washington to foyer Congress concerning the case of Elvira Arellano. Arellano, a younger undocumented mom, was prone to deportation after being found working at O’Hare Worldwide Airport with out authorization. To keep away from deportation, she took refuge within the Lozano household’s Humboldt Park church for over a 12 months.
Her eight-year-old U.S.-born son, Saul, was cared for partially by the Lozano household and grew very near Daysha. He grew to become the poster little one for a border-transcending motion that opposed the separation of undocumented dad and mom from their citizen youngsters. Regardless of his age, Saul delivered heartfelt speeches at authorities hearings in America and Mexico, in hopes of protecting his mom by his aspect, on American soil.
Upon arrival on the Rayburn Constructing, tensions between Emma’s group of activists and authorities officers had been brimming. “I’ve acquired younger individuals, highschool college students, their adrenaline and their spirit to battle was too excessive,” Emma explains. She determined it was finest to go away.
With Saul clinging onto Emma with one hand and Daysha with the opposite, they scurried to guide virtually 200 activists out of the constructing. After taking a number of incorrect turns, a part of the group ended up within the constructing’s basement. Emma says they discovered themselves sandwiched between the D.C. Police and the Division of Homeland Safety.
“We simply needed to go away the constructing,” says Emma. DCPD had different plans. The officer declared that they had been all underneath arrest. “After which this little lady,” says Emma pointing to Daysha, who bashfully holds her head in her palms, with a smile on her face. “She passes out, she falls on the ground.” Emma says that whereas Homeland Safety and DCPD argued over what to do, she revived her granddaughter they usually left the constructing unscathed.
Though Daysha is Tanya’s niece, the 2 resemble sisters. As a result of her aunt Tanya performed basketball and went to Pedro Albizu Campos Excessive Faculty, so did Daysha. Whereas Tanya was pregnant with Apollonia, 12-year-old Daysha would accompany her to each Zumba class, lugging her aunt’s 30-pound amplifier. She now runs Wholesome Hood’s social media accounts and typically provides speeches to the press at occasions. “I really feel prefer it was my obligation because the one Afro-Latina within the household to maintain following of their footsteps and do the identical factor, however for the African American group,” she says. “I am attempting to get there but it surely’s child steps.”
One week after the brutal demise of George Floyd by the hands of regulation enforcement officers, Chicago’s west aspect reached its boiling level. Looting that was principally concentrated downtown trickled into surrounding neighborhoods. Whereas different, whiter elements of Chicago noticed the ebb and circulation of law enforcement officials, forming human partitions defending industrial companies from protestors, many store homeowners in Black and Brown communities needed to fend for themselves. Residents of the largely Latinx Little Village, Cicero, and Pilsen assumed the position of vigilantes. Small enterprise homeowners, gang members, and lifelong residents lined the streets, some with bats, hammers, and pistols.
The next day, tweets started to pour in sharing horrific accounts of assaults in opposition to Black residents and passersby, carried out by Latinx residents. “I simply acquired attacked by 5 Mexicans in Cicero! Please test in your individuals & chorus from going to Little Village, something on or by Cermak and most significantly Cicero. THEY ARE ATTACKING BLACK PEOPLE,” read one tweet. Movies, together with one exhibiting a crowd of principally males on the street blockading a automobile of Black ladies and trying to bust within the home windows, gathered thousands of retweets and likes. The strain within the streets was mirrored on social media, Black and Latinx customers going forwards and backwards in heated arguments about the place blame ought to be positioned. Many dubbed it a “race battle.”
We Received Us rapidly organized a unity rally with the hope that veteran activists would encourage the incoming crowd and stress the significance of Black and Brown solidarity. Three thousand individuals attended. Musicians pounded drums and repeated requires resistance, whereas small cardboard platters stuffed with tapas had been handed round. “Raise Each Voice and Sing,” also called the Black Nationwide Anthem, was recited with fists held excessive. A cluster of Chicago law enforcement officials stored watch from a distance.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Congressman Bobby Rush, twenty fifth Ward alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Puerto Rican activist Jose Lopez, Slim, Wholesome Hood co-founder Rivers, and Tanya herself gave stirring speeches emphasizing frequent targets between marginalized communities. “Freedom from the violence of mass incarceration,” Tanya yelled over the microphone, the grit in her voice echoing by the block. “Freedom!” the gang yelled again.
The following morning, Tanya arose to a social media storm. Whereas many sung Wholesome Hood’s praises, others had been displeased and took to Instagram to voice their criticism. Rivers named the complaints introduced up by attendees: not sufficient consideration on Black points, not sufficient consideration on Brown points, not sufficient Black audio system, the dialogue was not “actual” sufficient, the atmosphere was too celebratory, the names of some police brutality victims had been mispronounced. She says she understands the frustrations and that if she may return in time, she’d take the critiques into consideration whereas offering a platform for each Black and Brown points. “If all of us get underneath the umbrella and combat collectively, we are going to all win,” she says.
Tanya additionally understands the criticism and needs to be higher. She says that the intention of the rally, to teach the brand new technology of activists on the historical past of Black and Brown solidarity, was not correctly communicated. “To say that we will not speak concerning the children in cages proper now, as a result of Black Lives Matter has a highlight, to me would not make sense,” she says. “I believe that the problem general is systemic racism, structural inequality. And people are each outcomes of colonialism.”
It is 9 AM and Tanya is seated within the backyard in her entrance yard, making calls in preparation for Apollonia’s seventh celebration that night. She is barefaced, drawing consideration to her spherical, chocolate brown eyes and pronounced cheekbones. Apollonia takes fashion notes from her mother, donning an identical black and white tie-dye sweatsuit, Nike sneakers, and ombre press-on nails. Her curly mane is pulled right into a half-up ponytail secured with a teal scrunchie.
The Lozano heiress rests on her mom’s lap, nibbling on her non permanent nails. Her unicorn backpack sits close by. Apollonia is homeschooled due to the pandemic. “This entire course of has made me really feel like a shitty mother,” says Tanya. “It is mother guilt. I do not spend sufficient time with my children. I do not give them sufficient consideration.” Whereas Apollonia and Junie’s father is part of their lives, Tanya says their custody schedule lacks consistency, which provides one other layer of instability to her life.
Tanya notices parallels between herself and Emma in the case of parenting. She says that rising up, Emma was continuously on edge from juggling motherhood and activism, projecting her frustrations onto Tanya and her siblings. “I see that shit in myself typically,” she says. “I do not need to be like that, but it surely’s arduous.”
On account of her activism work, Tanya’s worry for her life and the lives of her youngsters has intensified. In September of 2019, a caravan of Donald Trump supporters traveled from Fresno, California, to the steps of the Lozano church after a Fb web page from Frontline America, a conservative Christian extremist group with 153,000 followers, revealed the tackle. Emma says her household is often focused by conservatives for his or her position in offering assets to undocumented immigrants prone to deportation like Elvira Arellano and Miguel Perez. “They put a goal on my again and the again of the church in order that white supremacists know precisely the place we’re,” Emma stated in an interview with Block Club Chicago.
In a tearful Instagram post, Tanya recapped the confrontation and thanked group members for his or her help. “I believe it is vital to let everybody know that these are the type of issues that my household and I take care of due to the work that we do,” she stated, wiping tears from her eyes. “It is a very very scary factor to expertise.”
Due to Rudy’s assassination, Tanya is haunted by fears surrounding her household. “I might be scared to stroll up the steps to go see my children as a result of I would have visions that they had been lifeless within the mattress,” she says. “I do not need to flip anybody off to this,” Tanya says about activism. “The extra individuals that may do that the higher as a result of that is how we’ll achieve success in and having a revolution.”
Tanya will quickly transfer right into a two-bedroom residence a mile away from her household residence. “I have to be shut in case one thing occurs,” she explains. Each Slim and Emma had been briefly motionless for a number of months—he had a coronary heart assault and subsequent coma, she fell and broke her leg—leaning on Tanya as their major caregiver.
She says that whereas residing on the grounds, she was “too accessible.” Tanya hopes the brand new area will create extra room for self-care. “I yearn for a stage of help that goes past work stuff,” she says. “I might like to have somebody to be like, ‘Do you must go get your eyebrows achieved? I may stick with the youngsters.'”
Sitting within the kitchen of her dad and mom’ residence, she swipes by pictures of the 2 bed room residence, detailing her decor plans for Apollonia and Junie’s room. “It should be half unicorns and half dinosaurs,” says Apollonia, a smile throughout her face.
Regardless of previous and current obstacles, Tanya stays undeterred. “There is not any happier place to be,” she says. “You may all the time discover extra achievement in your individual group.”
For Tanya, the best achievement comes from her dad and mom. She says that at the beginning, they did not perceive the connection between her work and theirs. “They’re such bigger than life individuals,” she says, “And it was all the time type of a battle attempting to show to them that I am on this path in order that we will meet.”
“I imply I may cry about it as a result of it is all I ever needed,” Tanya says, her voice breaking between phrases. “For them to acknowledge that I’m a mirrored image of them.” v