Blanca S. Villalobos is a freelance cultural worker living in the San Gorgonio Pass with ancestral roots in Mexico. Blanca is the eighth of nine children. Their parents and half of their siblings migrated to the United States in the 1970’s, while the final four children of the family, including Blanca, were born here in the U.S. Blanca describes their family and culture as that of migrators, not so different from many living organisms on the earth. Blanca’s first desert experiences were with immediate family, traveling through the Sonoran and Colorado deserts to visit relatives in Mexico.
Blanca's experiences with the Mojave desert began with their siblings in Joshua Tree National Park to stargaze. Blanca explains they would typically enter the park after hours though, because the entry fee was a barrier to entry for their family and still is a barrier to a number of folks today.
Like many others who have come to this area, economics was part of the decision. Blanca was able to find a home to rent that was within their means, but it wasn’t easy. What was lucky was that the home is rented through a family friend who didn’t require Blanca pay for credit checks or put down a large deposit. Blanca describes other discrimination that can happen when one just announces their name or explains their line of work.
Blanca was also familiar with the Morongo Basin, having been employed in roles as an outdoor educator at some of the local desert preserves, but was not acquainted with any other BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) before moving here. Blanca says, “That was a whole journey for me – is trying to find my people when I moved here.”
Having moved to the desert just before the pandemic, even though there aren’t many live events happening, Blanca shares they were able to tap into their community by having access to the internet and to spaces there created by BIPOC for BIPOC. However, they note, many BIPOC still do not have access to the internet.
In this episode Blanca explains what services they offer to organizations as a cultural worker. They also share what inspires them to do this work and the difficulties their family sometimes has understanding the work Blanca does and why.
Dream work is also very close to Blanca's heart. Blanca believes we receive a great deal of wisdom from our ancestors and it is important for us to consider these messages and we make life choices.
Photo: Amy Hardwood