In 'Lola's Story,' A Journalist Reveals a Dark Family Secret

In 'Lola's Story,' A Journalist Reveals a Dark Family Secret

Journalist Alex Tizon carried a secret his whole life.

"She lived with my family for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings, and cooked and cleaned from dawn to dark — always without pay," Tizon writes an upcoming cover story in The Atlantic. "I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized she was my family's slave."

Lola was a domestic servant who had been with Alex's family going back a whole generation. Tizon's family brought her with them when they immigrated to the U.S. in 1964 from the Philippines. From the outside she looked like part of the family. The reality was the Lola was forced to sleep in hallways or storage spaces. She was not allowed to go back to the Philippines to see her family and she was isolated from the world. She worked from dawn until dark, and she took verbal abuse from both parents.

Journalist Alex Tizon and Lola in 2008.Courtesy of the Tizon family

Journalist Alex Tizon and Lola in 2008.Courtesy of the Tizon family

Tizon struggled with this dark part of his family's past his entire life and was finally able to put Lola's experience into his own words. But the author passed away unexpectedly of natural causes at the age of 57 on March 23.

Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg tells NPR's Rachel Martin that Lola came to live with the Tizons after Alex's grandfather gave her as a gift to Alex's mother.

Courtesy of The Atlantic

Courtesy of The Atlantic

"This is all back in the Philippines. Lola came with them to America, stayed with them as in essence the family slave and then Alex essentially — and I use this word advisedly — but Alex inherited her from his dying mother," Goldberg says.

 

Read more from NPR: http://www.npr.org/2017/05/16/528515935/in-lolas-story-a-journalist-reveals-a-family-secret

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