Julian Gonzalez in Santa María Tavehua, Oaxaca jamming on tuba. Photo by Carmen Vidal

Los Angeles is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world. The largest number of people in the city is of Latino origin. But there are many ethnic groups within Latin-American culture. Like the enclave of Zapotec villagers from Southern Mexico who have migrated to LA’s Koreatown.

KCRW’s Sonic Trace series has been focusing on Zapotecs who come from the tiny village of Santa Maria Tavehua in Oaxaca, Mexico.  For the final story of our five-part series, Zapotecs in LA,  we follow Julian Gonzalez. Julian is a teenage tuba player from L.A. that heads back to Santa María Tavehua to celebrate his musical heritage … and to search for his mom.

This story was produced by Anayansi Diaz-Cortes and Eric Pearse Chavez. Sonic Trace is part of Localore and the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR). It’s funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A very special thanks to musician & indie sound designer extraordinaire, Ronny Mikkelsen.

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  • teacherInLAI

    Listening to this story, let me first say that both the kids sounded sweet and nice and any parent would be proud to call them their own. THAT SAID, how am I supposed to feel about a woman who came to this country, abandoned two kids then turned around and had FOUR MORE? Am I supposed to stand in empathetic awe of these two kids who made it against all odds? Or am I allowed to have a negative opinion of this grossly irresponsible “mother”? As a resident of Koreatown and and ESL teacher dealing almost exclusively with Latinos, I have to say this behavior(which I see in spades)is infuriarating. It betrays a basic misunderstanding of what responsible behavior is. Dare I say, this misunderstanding permeates the rest of our society and is responsible for many of the problems Los Angeles faces; from gangs to drop out rates to driving without a license or insurance. Assuming she was an illegal immigrant(prove me wrong), this is a precise and detailed example of one of the many affects of illegal immigration. If we had a legal immigration system, then we would be able to educate these people in an organized manner and instill in them American values, starting with not having children if you’re not prepared to raise them for life. Or if you do not have the means to raise them.

  • tc

    Stunningly beautiful and heartbreaking radio. my first time listening to sonic trace, though longtime listener of other kcrw shows.

    listening to julian’s story and the tight bond between his sister made me forget where i was.

    - sitting in vanpool leaving sf.

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