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Conversations with Maria De Jesus Cruz Gonzalez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria De Jesus Cruz Gonzalez.

Hi Maria De Jesus, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
To get to where I’m at today hasn’t been easy, but I am thankful for each experience. Growing up as an undocumented Oaxacan immigrant hasn’t been easy. I feel limited sometimes because of my status, it wasn’t easy hearing and seeing so much anti-immigrant propaganda as a child, it made me frustrated. I couldn’t understand why my status was seen as something criminal. As I got older I found reason to not let these labels decide who I am. I am more than my status.

School wasn’t easy for me as a kid. I had a lot of shit going on at home and I couldn’t focus. But something that got me through all of that was messing with my hair. It became a passion to make sure I had a different color every week.

Towards the end of high school, I felt so down because I wasn’t going to a four years school or didn’t even know what my next step was like other peers. But I became determined when a friend told me about doing cosmetology! And now at the age of 21, I’m set to walk the stage and get my cosmetology certification this summer at LATTC.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’d say it’s been a journey; emotionally, mentally and physically. Aside from my status being a challenge. I grew up witnessing domestic violence in my house, my dad had a drinking problem he couldn’t handle. It was hard to deal with that for almost 20 years of my life. When you grow up in a household full of chaos, your perspective of the outside world can be a little dim. I felt like this impacted my self-esteem and the ability to trust in myself in others but I am ready to unlearn and relearn so many things that I didn’t know before. It feels good to have the space to find yourself.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a cosmetologist, I specialize in hair. I am thankful for all the skills I learned while I was in school, didn’t know anything about hair or self-care. I hope that after I walk the stage, I can create a space for people who don’t feel comfortable going to your normal salon setting. I am so proud that I decided to listen to my true creative self, I’m proud that wherever I go, I’ll find my worth as a human. My traumas and not even this anti-immigrant system will define who am I and where I’ll be.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I believe that within helping each other and creating community. We can prosper together. I’d love to find people to work with, you can find my hair Instagram page @Starlight.shears. I appreciate donations that will all go towards my career as a hair tech. My Venmo is @chica-soulera.

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