Photo: Tamara Leigh Photography for the Goldman Environmental Prize
Our last picture of Nalleli Cobo is invisible because it’s private. It’s not something you’d post on Instagram, or what you might think a Gen Z heroine would have on her profile. In fact, there are no pictures of X-rays or other images used to find disease inside a body.
Oil from the hospital.
The smoke from the Allen Drilling Company had crept inside Nalleli. She was diagnosed with a tumor at nineteen after spending an asthmatic childhood in the University Park neighborhood, racked by muscle spasms and other symptoms of a disease which had affected an entire community. Ecological racism. People not Pozos. Who knows if the dancing expanse of oil wells could be seen from the hospital room where our activist lay?
Epilogue. Three surgeries later, Nalleli is cancer free, but she won’t be able to bear children. After years of environmental battles, the oil extraction company closed its doors. And the bilingual sign (a warning about pollution or a threat for those fighting it?) has been removed. Removed not only from the neighborhood’s view, but really from the whole world, from everyone who might have heard about Nalleli’s (dual) fight from some post or another, maybe even through this Journal.