The Story Behind Photo of Women Selling Tamales in Blizzard
I was headed to run errands as I passed an intersection and was stunned by what I saw.
On a day (February 1, 2015) where everyone called off work and businesses closed their doors due to the fifth largest blizzard in Chicago’s history, I saw these two brave women huddled together with only the steam from their pots of tamales keeping them warm.
I was so taken by what I saw and wanted to slam on the breaks immediately to take their photograph but kept driving, about half a block later and I turned around not being able to avoid documenting that scene. I am a photographer and as fellow photographers probably can understand, sometimes you see something that moves you and there’s a feeling of responsibility to make sure you can freeze the moment so others can see it too.
This photograph was taken in the streets of Pilsen, a neighborhood that constantly inspires me and humbles me because of scenes like this that I encounter on a daily basis. Maybe that is why I love Pilsen - beyond the art, and beautiful culture that has kept me there for almost a decade, I consistently see moments like these.
These particular women truly embody what it means to be hard workers. They stood there stoically just doing the work needing to be done and didn’t seem to be phased by the accumulating snow and the frigid temperatures. I’ve known them through the flavors of their delicious tamales for years and have often shared short conversations with them.
After I snapped the photo they looked over and waved, and I yelled from my window, “¡Son mujeres muy chingonas!,” as I clapped for them. They waved and laughed until a customer walked up. I have tremendous respect for these two ladies and will continue to see them as example of strong hardworking women.
Submitted by Magali Rangel, the official photographer for The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Magali’s family is originally from Veracruz. She’s been photographing in her community of Pilsen and in the Chicago area since 2007. Her favorite type of tamal is Pollo con Salsa Verde. Visit her website and Facebook Page.
Editor’s Note: After seeing Magali’s photo online, we reached out to Chicago artist Robert Valadez who helped put us in contact with her. Gracias to both for helping us share this story!
“Dusek’s, Punchbowl, Honkeytonk, Lagunitas Brewery, Pilsen Vintage, Comet Vintage, Knee Deep Vintage, Bowtruss coffee, Beurrage French Bakery, Sip and Splash, are just a handful of the many gentrifying businesses that dot our community. NOW the newest coming attractions to Pilsen: 400 LUXURY CONDOS and rumors of STARBUCKS and ANOTHER coffee and pastry shop, DOLLOPS. Something needs to be done before the damage is irreversible to the working class immigrant culture of this community.
Everything that makes up this community—our churches, our shops, our community organizations and programs, our schools, our neighbors, our friends, our family, our community centers, and our culture are being removed for the will of the market and for the tastes of the upper classes!!!
The affluent are moving in and displacing working class families at an even faster rate than before, and as it stands our community and the Mexican cultural presence in the inner city is not going to last if we sit around and do nothing!
“At Comet Vintage (above), Jamie told us that when she and her business partner, Jen, opened their store 4 years ago they were welcomed by the other stores on the block and now that they’ve become established, they’re really excited to give that same energy to people who are opening new spots now.”