11/18/17 Session #4

All that you touch

You change.

All that you change

Changes you.

The only lasting truth

Is Change
God is change.

-Octavia Butler

2017 has thus far shown us many changes in which we perceive who can hold power and who can facilitate change. This is felt from a macro level of our shifting government and climate, to the everyday changes we are experiencing within our own communities and developmentally within our own lives.  Today we focused on introducing the topic of POC futurism and what that means to our own identities in relation to our place our communities and at large. Science fiction almost typically is demonstrated to center such themes of whiteness, patriarchy, imperialism, heteronormativity and competition. These stories imagine our future colonizing other territories and planets due the destructive force these themes reflect and shape our current way of living.

It is through looking to our past and understanding our history we can begin to uncover that we have not always survived in a world that does not center patriarchy, capitalism and other marginalizing forces. Science Fiction allows the freedom to reimagine our futures but if we cultivate and rebuild with these structures we will not be sustainable. Such as Audre Lorde claims, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” So who and what values do we center for for our future? For the future of our generations? We need to begin to imagining a new way to organize life, our relationships to each other, to power and the earth so that we do not continue to perpetuate destruction.

We can begin this process to imagine change by writing ourselves into the future, foreseeing our survival and how we will thrive through the changes.  Visionary Fiction writer Walidah Imarisha explains, “Any time we try to envision a different world—without poverty, prisons, capitalism, war—we are engaging in science fiction. When we can dream those realities together, that’s when we can begin to build them right here and now.” The conditions that we live in today were once born from the imagination of others. So who is to say we cannot do the same to dream for a better future?

We invited our group today to spend time writing and answering the following prompt:
Imagine, you meet your ancestor, either the one who migrated or even further back, and you look just like one another. Let’s write about that encounter.

What challenges do they face? What’s their character like? What do they sound like? What are their dreams? What are their assets? Their fears? What’s their magic? What do they think about the US? What do they think you about you? Your life? Your identities? Your struggles? Your fight for social justice? What questions do they have for you?What’s different about your lives? What’s the same about your lives? What power did they pass on to you?

Below are pieces that were written today:

La Mama looked just like me. Hopefully, but full of pain. She didn’t know how her eleven children would survive in the world. They lived in poverty, something she worked against since she could remember. But she always took the time to show her children compassion. She used to say, “here take the food off my plate, I will be skinny for you.” Her children saw her fears, they knew how hard she worked. She wanted her children to live happy, to survive the world they were born into. She prayed and prayed but realized but realized it wasn’t enough. She had heard of an Inca’s secret journey, which many said, “with a sacrifice of the heart would grant the seeker anything they desired.” So La Mama told me, “there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my children and their future!” She began her journey into the mountains after having fed her children and only half a bread in her stomach. She had to take her youngest because she couldn’t stand to be separated from her mother.

The road was cold, lonely, and many people along the way told La Mama that she would never find the secret passage. They asked her “why are you going when you know it’s going to be hard.” “Why don’t you just go home, don’t waste your time!! But she ignored them held tightly to her last born and kept moving. At nightfall as she finally put her baby to sleep on a couple of panchos on the rocky road. She cried.- She said this was the time she began to ask the night abyss surrounding her. “What if I can’t find it? What if it’s not real? She couldn’t imagine the passage, she couldn’t even fathom the idea of a solution out of poverty. She kept long into the night of a solution out of poverty. She wept long into the night, she cried herself to sleep. When she woke her daughter was gone. La Mama began screaming her name, angry at herself for believing in the secret passage. She just wanted to find her daughter and leave the unforgiving mountains.

In the distance she heard the echo of her daughter’s voice. She followed it, the sand led her into a cave just above her camp. She heard her daughter laughing and happy, her heart finally felt like it was back in her chest. She walked deeper into the cave unable to see a thing. She tripped over a rock and hit her head and immediately began to bleed. Out of her spilled blood unto the floor a red rose formed and more buds bloomed around La Mama. The bloodied ground shined bright red and lead her deeper into the cave, where she found her child unharmed and sleeping.

Suddenly, a shadowy, small figure emerged from above her child. La Mama was frightened and quickly grasped her child to safety. The figured stood very still and stared back at La Mama, then the child and gazed back at La Mama. The figure then spoke, “ why are you here?” La Mama replied, “I came to look for my child. The figure replied, “why did you venture this far away from your home and people?. La Mama explained, I came into the mountains in hopes to find the secret passage.” The shadow questioned, “why?” La Mama bursted into tears and after a few deep breaths to compose herself she exclaimed, “I want my children to have a future and survive and live long prosperous life! In the world of U.S Colonialism, Ecuador is losing so much, making it impossible to survive. People like us, brown, poor, and “uneducated”, live to work the lands and resources so others who benefit from this system can then harvest our labor and live comfortably. “I just want comfort and security for my children.”

I believe my children will become a force in the world for people like us. I want them to be in place where they can help others. I believe in my children and I would do anything for them.” The figure didn’t say anything as La Mama’s steady stream of tears began to fill and flood the cave with her sorrow. The figure touched her sleeping child’s forehead and said, “Mama, your children will all survive, flourish and give back to their community. This I can promise you. You need not to travel far and wide to fulfill this wish.” It is within, it will always be within your life.



Brittany F.

We meet during a Puerto Rican Parade. I was walking around with a piña colada in hand and I see a reflection of myself. I stared back and began to make silly faces. But the image didn’t move. I approached closer and it turned out to be another person. “Oh my bad,” I said, “it’s a mirror.” I explained. After that, we talked a little bit more and it turns out that we’re related. She’s my great, great great, great grandmother. She told me how she got here and the reasons why she wanted to bother herself as a person. She migrated on a boat and started working as an entertainer. She would do dances, concerts, and play instruments. Even tell stories.

I would ask her what was her favorite instrument and she would respond with the drum. According to her, the drum was very important because it represented life because of the beat. The beat was the heart of everything back home. It would begin a story and end it. That’s why she loves it. I told her that the drums are my favorite. After that, she has been teaching me how l live with the drum in my heart. “As long as you keep a steady beat nothing will stop you.”

Anaiza Cartagena

A conversation with an ancestor

Challenges they face?

Taking care of her children and her sister’s children. Trying to support them.

What is their character like?

Reserved and welcoming




Make people around her happy.


This lady has seen it all, ain’t nobody got time for that.


Her charm.

Thoughts about the U.S?

She tries to get through the day, some people are too rude and she just doesn’t like the people.

Thoughts about me?

She loves me, she crocheted a whole blanket for me.

Thoughts about my life

She’s not opposed to anything that I’m doing, she just wants me to make the right decisions.

My identities?

She accepts who I am?

My struggles?

She would tell me that I shouldn’t be struggling because I am so young.

Questions I would ask:

How did you feel when your sister abandoned her family?

Why did you feel the need to take in my grandmother?

Did you feel like it was your responsibility?


Garrick Baker

I can imagine all the difficulties he’s going through like traveling, food, water, and asking for money from people. Their character is brave and strong because no matter what he keeps going always looking at the bright side instead of seeing the bad. His dream is to start a family in the U.S. in order to make a change within this country because I see so much negativity. Despite being in a country that is supposed to be a “land of opportunity” for newcomers. His fears was going back and dying while he is on this journey.

Did someone threatened to send you back if you don’t do anything wrong? Were their people offering you things like coffee, socks, or food? Who did you look up to? Is there an item you’ve treasured for so long and what does it mean to you? How was it there in that country you came from? What made you leave there? His magic was to make people laugh and happy and make them comfortable with another.


Lucas V

When I meet with Rafael, I’d imagine the challenges they face or he faces in his family to just to meet basic needs such as work and living. With what’s going on in Puerto Rico right now, it’s a matter of survival and keeping a positive mindset. Their character would be cheerful but determined, just like my dad’s. Their fear would be just keeping family safe and happy. Their magic is creating conversation  and making people smile. They think of the United States as a place of sovereignty but more of as a place of opportunity, not home. They see me as grown, smart, and the will to do, what I want and need to do. My life is filled with work, lots of fun, and being busy in school, going to have a great education. My identity is a mixture of Boriqua but also very  Americanized. My struggles would be making it well in school by staying out of problems such as drugs and women. He hopes I would carry on and know my culture as I should with that of America. They’d ask about my school and how it was, as well as how my job is. Generally, they’d see my family is too, with my profession.

Our lives are different because of how fortunate I am with education. An easy job, family close by, and tons of technology, and mostly support. What’s the same is our foods, culture, and I  believe that’s it. The power they passed to me is that of what privilege it is to be here and live in Chicago in Humboldt Park.

Leanesse Castillo

If I could spend one day with one of my ancestors they would be as crazy as the rest of my family. They would be funny, straight forward, no sugar coating and very outgoing. We would tell stories and laugh and have a good time, show me their cooking skills and the way they do things. The things they loved to do things. The things they love to do and what made them happy, they can tell me how much my great grandparents drove them crazy. They tell me about their background, what they have been through, their conflicts, why they did the things they did.

Just for a day for them to show me differently because I’m not like them, well not all the time. I think they did pass down the anger and attitude and loudness down to me but also the goofy and big hearted personality down to me.


11/11/18 Session #3

But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.
-Audre Lorde

We opened today’s meeting inviting students to imagine all the ways our ancestors  have worked for their liberation, imagine all the ways they are still figuring out, and see yourself in them. Recognize the hustle to get free. Beyond what stereotypes, see them as a freedom fighter and change maker. Now see it in yourself. In pairs we each broke off a spent a few minutes sharing ways in which you’ve created in your life that you’re proud of? On answer that stood out was a student I paired off with as he shared his experience in creating a Help the Homeless, a yearly project that collects funds to buy brand new warm clothes for folks living through homelessness in neighborhood of Humboldt Park.

We spent the rest of our gathering to learn from Dr. Mumm about Chicago migration history and begin to piece where our family’s experience may lie based on when, why, and how we got to the U.S and ended up in Chicago. None of these experiences are monolithic but are fascinating to thread the similarities and motivations as to why they migrated. Typically, in our U.S history curriculum at school we are limited to focus on how pilgrims migrated to U.S and people of color were imported as slaves. We center slavery as the beginning of history of for many while erasing the legacies they brought with them. Being able to contextualize push and pull factors of why many of our families moved here which was due to the political influence of the U.S on our home countries. For example, learning about such policies/ programs like the Bracero Program  for Mexicans and Operation Bootstrap in Puerto Rico gives us more insight on how migration isn’t merely a choice but a choice of survival. It’s exciting during the beginning stages of this process because as we begin to piece together more information from our families we can begin to draw more connections and map ourselves within history with more integrity.