CHICANOS are Americans of Mexican descent.
Long before California was a part of the United States, it belonged to Mexico.
After winning the Mexican-American War (1846-48), the United States practically forced the annex of California, Nevada and Utah. Almost overnight, these lands of vast future wealth were taken from the Mexican people. Those who lived there were forced to become Americans without any regard for what they wanted. Since then, Chicanos continue to face discrimination, even though they have contributed greatly to the success of America.
Most of the “CHICANO” photographs were taken in LA, San Diego and Tijuana between 2007 and 2009. They capture the stark reality of Chicano gangs, a task that previously seemed impossible.
I started taking photographs of Chicano gangs in 2007, after I met a Japanese who had gained huge trust from Chicano gang's Big Homie, or gangleader.
I hung out at houses shared by Chicano street gang members just 14 to 15 years old, as well as one where the Big Homie lived. This gave me the opportunity to observe gang life from both perspectives. From the moment they were born, many gang members never had the chance for a life outside of a gang and end up losing their lives because of it.
However, as I photographed the gang members, I began to see a different side of them, one that is perhaps a result of the harsh circumstances they live in, with life so cheap there’s no guarantee of seeing tomorrow safely. I saw the absolute bond between family and friends, that way gang members care for their families, show the utmost respect to superiors and even risk their lives in the name of friendship.
Through my photographs, I want to convey the ultimate love and friendship displayed by the Chicano men living their lives to the extreme.
Today, there are over 20 million Chicanos in America. No longer will their presence be ignored.