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Life on the Block.

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Since April of 2002 I have been documenting the lives of young Puerto Rican women and their families living in Spanish Harlem, Manhattan, New York. There is a hardness that characterizes these streets, and innocence dies young. This community has a high rate of unemployment (3 times more than NYC average).
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  • Since April of 2002 I have been documenting the lives of young Puerto Rican women and their families living in Spanish Harlem, Manhattan, New York. There is a hardness that characterizes these streets, and innocence dies young. This community has a high rate of unemployment (3 times more than NYC average). The family income is based on public assistance and often supplemented by the underground economy of the street; the sale of drugs and other illegal activities that commonly lead to detention, prison, and death. Fathers and brothers are often absent from the family unit. Girls reaffirm their existence through maternity and drop out of High School to become mothers at an early age. Women are the pillars and often the source of vitality and strength in family life. These women represent the potential elements of change in this society.

    They are a generation of new Americans wanting to achieve a prosperous lives.

    For the past four years I have been observing the inner landscapes of these young women. Mercy, Sheila, Amy and Midget are some of the women who invited me into their lives. During this time I have observed these women's desire to stretch their own boundaries and their inability to do so. I have seen their disappointment; the legacy of their parent's fallen American dreams. The cycle of survival and apathy eradicates any long-term vision for their own lives.

    They often choose to be somebody in their block rather than nobody in a promising new horizon. To break that lifestyle is almost a betrayal to their community. This essay is an intense look at their roles as women in a male-dominant culture, as latinas in a primarily white society, and as mothers of the upcoming American generations.

    This Project was awarded the 2006 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant


    THE IMAGES
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  • 103rd Street Between Lexington and Park avenues, Manhattan, New York.
  • Jesus: "I was shot twice and I survived God, has given me a second chance to live and I want to do it differently. I want to get off the streets, get out of this hood."
  • Women hanging out
  • Little Bit on a 103rd Street
  • Friday Night
  • Boxing in the park on 103rd Street, screening of the Tyson and Lewis fight.
  • Birthday Party
  • Nap on a car
  • Amy and Cope/ Amy: "Ifirst got pregnant at the age of 15. Cope wasn't around during thepregnancy, he didn't want to recognize the baby. When Joshua was 3months old Cope got arrested and went to jail for a year.�"
  • Amy getting ready
  • Amy, 9 months pregnant. "Thekind of life I would like to have, I can't even imagine it right now. Iwould like to have my own house with a backyard, three cars and a housefor us to go on vacation. But this the life I have now. I'm justwaiting to see what the future holds for me after this baby is born."
  • Amy's family
  • Godmother's Love
  • Jesus & Cope
  • Mickey with bullet-proof vest
  • Last night's fight
  • Marcy scared / Mercy: "The father of my daughter came to my apartment and beat my boyfriend up. Tonight  I am staying at my mom's."
  • Stabbed to death
  • Marisol: "I am 19years old. I left my parents house because I couldn't stand my father.He used to beat us. He doesn't work, he drinks.He tried to kill me once, with a kitchen knife. Now I work at BurgerKing. I am saving money to go back to school. I want to study computerscience."
  • Midget and Mickey in the Hospital
  • Mickey in his room  /  Mickey: "Mymother doesn't want me at her house if I am selling drugs. I have livedin every basement of this block. The rats passing through my face whileI am sleeping..."
  • To become a father
  • Missy's sweet 16 /  Missy, on the right, has a psichological and physical handicap. Her family is proud to celebrate her 16th birthday.
  • Little Bit and Negro   /   Little Bit (Lorene): "Mysister had Negro at the age of 14. The same age my mother had me. Ihelped her raise the kid. I love him. Negro is like my son."
  • Mercy in the park of 103rd Street/ Mercy: "Myfather died when I was 11. He was into drugs. He used to take dope. Hewas there now and then but not how he should've been. My mother made upfor it, like I am trying to do with my daughter Keyanna."
  • The beach on the block
  • Summer time
  • Coming of age on 103rd street
  • Thanks to all of who have made this project a reality and have supported me in the journey.
  • Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu © 2007

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