Papi is from the Lower East Side


by Talia Rodriguez

The Lower East Side of Manhattan, always existed in my mind as a mythical place I belonged. When I think of who I would have been if we stayed in Manhattan, I think of Titi Migdalia Vias.

She is Manhattan, well postured, poised, educated, sleek, she gives the right type of loves that helps you find your gifts and break generational curses. Appropriate, beautifully dressed, and present – fully always watching

Pendiente – watching because we are from the Lower East Side. And we are not going out like that.

We are from the projects- papi is proud of that.

Titi is too, the childhood love of my uncle, My Titi is the lower east side embodied in a cardigan and a smirk.

She’s a fighter. Period.

Migdalia Vias fought for every opportunity she ever had.

Coming out swinging – slight, and quiet but a champion. Her weapon of choice? Hard work.

There are 174,000 units of public housing presently in NYC. Each one of them occupied by families whose aspirations, like Migdalia’s, are born at such a steep economic disadvantage (in relationship to the capitalistic incline), it is almost impossible to scale. But she did.

Though born in poverty, Migdalia’s early life was marked by the love of her 7 brothers and sisters. As a child she worked at a grocery store, during school and after. She got herself a job in third grade, enough said.

Quadruple shifts that about sums it’s up. She worked singles, doubles, triples, teaching, mothering, cleaning, cooking, scrubbing, reading, and learning. First taking care of home and her motherly responsibilities, then in the world of “work”, and then usually in the evening another job, at night – she wedork on her own aspirations. Earning a 4.0 – (perfection)- her goal in her master’s program.

She signed herself up for opportunity with the risk that she would fail, but the faith that she wouldn’t. She is a gifted and blessed woman – full of the spirit of our lord and the determination that comes with loving Christ in a world of sin.

Her quote “Greatest is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it but sail we must and not drift nor lie at anchor.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child states children can build a “biological resistance to adversity”. Faith, love, culture, desire, resilience, all these things formed the child that got herself a job and was collecting a paycheck long before they even figured she could.

The Lower East Side raised my titi Migdalia Vias and she was raised right.

Talia Rodriguez is a bi-racial, bi-cultural, and bi-lingual Latina from Buffalo. Ms. Rodriguez’s mission is to write about Latina’s, who have shaped the face of our city and our region. It is Ms. Rodriguez’s believes that our own people should inspire us and in telling our collective stories, we push our community forward. Ms. Rodriguez is a community advocate and organizer. She is a 5th generation West Sider, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo Law School, and an avid baseball fan. She lives on the West Side with her young son A.J… Ms. Rodriguez sits on the board of several organizations including the Belle Center, where she attended daycare. Ms. Rodriguez loves art, music, food, and her neighbors.

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