Buford Highway: Home

18 November 2011

Buford Highway can be summed up as simply an immigrant haven. However, it is more than a myriad of different races and ethnicities living and working together. What some would call an immigrant haven, others call home.

Dedos, a 30 year old Mexican tattoo artist, has lived and worked on Buford Highway for eight years. Like most would think, Dedos came to America to have a better life. Dedos likes living and working on Buford Highway because, “The work on Buford Highway is good,” he says.

Although some have difficulty assimilating into a new culture, Dedos said adjusting to life on Buford Highway was extremely easy. He said that he adapted quickly, because life in America is easier than in Mexico. “To live here is nice. I like it. You adapt here, very fast,” he says.

A main aid in adapting to life on Buford Highway, for Dedos is the big and welcoming Hispanic community. Dedos explained how it was easy to fit in with the other Hispanics, because everyone treats each other like family. Dedos described Mexican Independence Day, Sept.13, as a typical day for everyone to get together and celebrate their Hispanic culture. Dedos said, “Everybody comes from Alabama, North Carolina, Savannah and Tennesse to Plaza Fiesta and we have a big celebration… It is mostly for the Mexicans but everybody comes from the different countries: the Puerto Ricans, the Colombians. It’s a big celebration, it’s nice.”

Dedos also highlighted the tradition of celebrating the Day of the Dead. Dedos said the Day of the Dead is a “big, big celebration in Mexico.” Dedos said, “The people put candles in the lake and line the streets. The people say that when Nov. 1 comes, the dead people come back and go to the houses of their families. Here nobody celebrates it like that, only Halloween, and trick or treating. The Hispanic people still put the pictures [of the dead] on the table, but only that.”

Despite the close Hispanic community, Dedos explained that the community does not have many leaders. “The Hispanics here don’t have a leader. If you get in trouble then you go to the Mexican lawyers. I think they are the closest we have to leaders,” he said.

Although Hispanics make up the majority of the Buford Highway population, there are also a good amount of Koreans, Blacks and Whites who live and work along Buford Highway. By simply driving down the main strip, you can see the separation of Hispanic and Korean populations. There are a few integrations of the races, such as a Korean laundromat that is catered to the Hispanic community. “Everybody gets along. The only problem I have is sometimes with the Blacks. I just don’t like that sometimes they sell drugs, or the gangs,” Dedos says. Dedos explained that the police previously wiped out the Latino gangs. However, the Latino gangs have since been replaced with Korean and Black gangs. Dedos said that he hopes the police will soon get rid of the Korean and Black gangs on Buford Highway as well.

All in all, Dedos loves the time he has spent living and working on Buford Highway. In regards to comparing life here to Mexico, he says, “Mexico is my country; I will visit. But, there is nothing there for me. Buford Highway is my place. I have my work; I have my girlfriend. I’m making my life here. When you move to a different country, you don’t go back. You make your life. There is so much more for me here in America, on Buford Highway.”

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