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Cruising with culture: Lowrider communities celebrate Hispanic pride, erasing negative stereotypes

lowrider cars
Posted at 2:03 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 14:03:55-04

EL PASO, Tx. - For decades, lowriders have drawn crowds for their flashy paint and sleek design. The caravans of chrome and culture are a symbol of Hispanic pride in many communities across the country.

In El Paso, Texas, the love for lowriders runs deep.

"You go to other people, they have a $2,000 barbecue grill," said Jason Medina. "This so happens to be our thing, that’s all."

Every week there's a parade of pride as car lovers gather for a Sunday cruise to show off their mobile masterpieces.

"We’ll bring the wives. We’ll bring the kids. We’ll cruise, and then, we’ll close the day with a good meal," said Javier Nunez, president of Authentic Car Club in El Paso.

From the interior to the hood and all the way down to the rims, no detail is left untouched. The cars are decked out with chrome, hydraulics, glittery paint and top-of-the-line sound systems.

"I decided to go with the Joker. I like him because he’s not a regular superhero," said Javier Pedroza, president of Slow and Low Car Club in El Paso.

Though some here said it's debatable where lowriders originated, one thing everyone can agree on is its significance in Hispanic communities.

Lowrider culture grew even more during the Chicano movement in the 1960s. Car club members said it’s a way to honor their Mexican-American roots.

"It’s all about the heritage and the culture that we were brought up," said Mando Espinoza, owner of EPTcruising.com. "It’s an image of each individual, their lifestyle."

Espinoza said the cars are a canvas of culture and personality.

However, custom vehicles are sometimes associated with negative stereotypes.

Car club members are working to erase those stereotypes. Many clubs have an application process and others have implemented rule books and even background checks.

They're also heavily involved in the community.

"We’ve done a lot of fundraising. We’ve done a lot of donating. We see families in need. We’ve done it all," said Pedroza.

Despite what outsiders might think, members hope people will think twice before judging a book by its cover.

"We’re hardworking people," Pedroza said.

Those in the lowrider community said their labor of love takes time, money and dedication.

However, they added it’s more than a hobby - it’s a lifestyle with family at its core.

"It’s just me and my sister and my parents so I don’t really have a lot of family, but I come here," Medina said. "It really is like a familia."