People line Mission Street during a cruise.

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Low ‘n Slow: Cruising the Mission

Cheryl L. Guerrero | United States

Lowriding has its roots in the Chicano culture of California. Although not all lowriders are Chicano, the vibrant style and cultural expression are strongly linked to the Latino- and particularly the Chicano- community. And while the candy-colored, stylized vehicles associated with it are integral, they are only one facet of the story. A broader understanding is that this is about identity, culture, and community visibility.

This is particularly true in the Mission District of San Francisco, considered to be the center of the city’s Latino community. Gentrification has contributed to the erosion of the historically Latino neighborhood and the displacement of its members. Cruising here then becomes both an enduring tie to the community and an act of resistance, even, or especially, for those who have been economically pushed out of the area. Audrey, who grew up in in the Mission, explains that cruises are “our chance to take it back and to … show that we’re still here. Even if we can’t afford to live in the city that we were born and raised in, we’re still here." 

Photography is a way for me to create and explore, while documenting life and relaying important stories. My work revolves around people and the underlying themes of community, culture, and tradition.

I have been photographing the lowrider community and cruises in the Mission District of San Francisco since 2017. This on-going body of work documents the community’s cultural pride and connection to the neighborhood while it grapples with the loss of it.

This work is not only a way to honor that specific community, it is also part of a larger story about pride, resistance, and reclaiming space that resonates in a world where more and more communities of color are disenfranchised and pushed to the edges.

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