Social Justice in HCPCP

One of the forms of marginalization and inequality that HCPCP should address is how both we and the community view the pauper cemetery as a whole. The pauper cemetery is surrounded by many negative stereotypes about who was buried there and why. When I first told my friends and family about the project I was asked out right why I would want to work in the “beggar’s field” they also insinuated only the lowest of the low, who had no one were buried there. It is because of this way of thinking so little care up until recently was given to the cemetery ,years of being left alone and practically forgotten the cemetery was in shambles over run with weeds , drugs and a site of ritualistic ceremonies. And with local and state government agencies giving little funding to aid in cleanup of the cemetery not much could be done up until recently. This only fueled public perception of the cemetery, if the agencies that are supposed to maintain cemeteries doesn’t care there is no reason they should.
The stereotypes that surround the Pauper cemetery are false , from working one the project I can say without a doubt that the people buried in the paupers cemetery where very much loved and cared for. Many of the headstones we examined are homemade and show a lot of work and consideration and many of the graves are adorned with grave offerings. While it is true that some of the people buried here may have been the destitute we must be understanding that there could have been unforeseen circumstances that lead them there. The people buried here could have been pillars in their own community but lacked the financial resources to buy a plot in the private cemetery. I also recall that many of those buried there where infants, and as sad it is, many times parents would have to make the choice between their dead child and those who were still alive. Plots are very expensive and if you have several children still alive at home you can’t afford to given them the funeral who might have wanted. It one of the tough choices that exist in our society.
Another and the most common form marginalization and inequality is tied to race and ethnicity. The majority of those buried here are of Hispanic decent, but considering that the majority of the population of the Rio Grande Valley is as well I do not consider race to be a factor in who was buried there only socio-economic status . But directly across from us is the African American cemetery which I do believe was marginalized do to race. While better kept in better shape than the paupers cemetery there is a clear seen difference between it and the private cemetery.
At this point in time we are doing anything to reproduce the inequalities of the past, but we also not doing anything to ramify them either. Going forward I believe that we must keep the community informed about the project. We ourselves must remember not to judge on only what we can see now. That we are not just taking pictures of head stones, but connecting them to real people whose family might still be out there looking for them. And take this as a learning opportunity about how our society functioned in the past , and how we can take those lessons to better our present and future.

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