A native to South Central Los Angeles, Jazmín Ercilia García Gómez, is a 29-year-old Salvadoran American who comes from a strong line of women, including her mother, grandmother and aunt, who by example, inculcated a sense of resilience, joy, and social responsibility upon her. Growing up, Jazmín had the privilege of often visiting her parent’s homeland which further shaped her identity and politics. When visiting El Salvador, her grand-aunt always imparted to her the teachings of Archbishop Oscar Romero who used his high position within the Catholic Church to speak out against the human rights violations by the Salvadoran government and death squads on civilians. Jazmín would heed her advice and immerse herself in history, grasping the lessons from Archbishop Oscar Romero’s work. In high school, she connected the imperialism and militarization in El Salvador to the over-policing of Black and Brown youth, inspiring her social activism.
After high school, Jazmín left Los Angeles to attend The Evergreen State College in Washington State where she majored in Sustainability Studies. Although she appreciated being surrounded by forests, this also magnified the lack of access to open green spaces in South Central, something that would motivate her future community work. Along with the stark differences of physical space, Jazmín grappled with overt racism and culture shock. While being light-skinned allowed Jazmin to navigate through the challenges of living in a predominantly White conservative community, she found herself desperately missing the diversity that permeates the streets of Los Angeles, including its food and entrepreneurial spirit, prompting her to eventually move back home.
Today, Jazmín is the co-owner of Pueblo Cafe, a cooperative and pop-up coffee shop that strives to create alternative sustainable models of ownership that do not exploit people's labor. Additionally, Jazmín is the co-captain of the South Central Run Club, a community group whose goal is to foster health and wellness, as well as reverse the stigmas surrounding pedestrian mobility in South Central. Through the SCRC, Jazmín has cultivated healthy strategies to cope with anxiety and depression while simultaneously helping others do the same. Despite Jazmín’s role in various collectives, she willfully refrains from calling herself a leader as she considers herself a “team player” and a “doer,” a testament to her ethos of sustainability.
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, Jazmín’s message can be encapsulated in the words of social activist Maggie Kuhn who once said, “…speak your mind– even if your voice shakes.” Kuhn’s message is precisely what Archbishop Oscar Romero embodied and what her aunt instilled in her.