3/10/18 Session #11


Today our group joined to support and join Evelyn, a B.I.C fellow who collaborated to design an hour long workshop for this conference called, WE ARE ENOUGH: I don’t need your papers to be whole, I am already whole, I am already enough. The conference Immigrant Youth Conference at Northeastern Illinois University – El Centro Campus, was sponsored by ICIRR: Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which Evelyn just landed her first post-grad job there as an full-time employee within their Community Outreach department. The inspiration for this workshop is intended as a response to the attacks on immigrant youth. ICIRR and community organizations are working to creating safer spaces for immigrant youth and provide resources, and an opportunity to meet other immigrant youth across Illinois.

The video above captures the first three minutes into Evelyn’s workshop introduction and she shares a personal story about a friend of from high school who inspired her to see the need of mental health support and affirmation for immigrant youth. Undocumented Trauma can manifest in many examples such as the process of cultural assimilation, stress from the lack of educational bilingual support, fear of sudden deportation, or simply enrolling into college. These are but a few barriers that arise when the U.S path towards citizenship is ridgid. Everyday activities are generate anxiety and a risk of being exposed and enduring the repercussions of what it means to be undocumented. Especially, during this time when our nation’s immigration rhetoric is very hateful.

The biggest take away from this workshop was during the small circle discussions and how connected, empathetic and compassionate everyone was towards one another when they shared a personal struggle they encountered when seeking support. There is so much stigma and historical distrust in the Latinx community around mental and/or health services present today. Families who haven’t had safe and positive experiences with doctors or never sought mental health resources may have a harder time understanding the significance of mental health care. This might generate feelings of shame to process our stories or airing out “family business” toward to a stranger makes it even more difficult to pursue help.

Towards the end of the workshop the was a smaller group of folx that stayed behind in our room to support a teen girl who was about to graduate high school and was afraid that due to her undocumented status she could not afford to pay for college out of pocket. This girl was distraught sharing how isolated she felt trying to tend to her declining mental health over this past year as she approaches graduation. Other participants in the workshop stepped up to listen to her patiently and exchanged contact and resources with her to stay in touch to help her figure out her next steps. Overall, we did not anticipate the outcome of this workshop to feel so vulnerable and engaged for the entire hour. I am beyond thankful and proud of the impact my team had facilitating workshop and future possibilities to continue the dialogue of undocumented trauma.


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.

Meeting #15 11/19/2016

Lily Be Storytelling Workshop and Photo Journalism Workshop Diosa Latinx Photoshoot: Honoring our ancestors and indigeneity

We began this morning with a passage from  Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence  is personal account of an indigenous Australian family’s experiences as members of the Stolen Generation. The erasure of a person’s culture is stripping people of their power. Colonist use this technique to make you feel ashamed for keeping traditions alive whether that is through language, music, religion, or clothes. The these things is what protects our energy and keep us grounded to our ancestral power. This power are secret songs, recipes, dances, prayers, and wishes that we used to survive erasure.

We asked students around the table their thoughts about the reading and many stories resonated with one another’s similar experiences.

Violet: the reading reminded me of the erasure of culture and I feel sad that there are things about my culture that I will ever know or known it was lost. I feel guilty at times that my attempts to learn Spanish or more about Puerto Rican or Colombian culture is a mere caricature of what I try to embrace. But I have to be easy on myself because the goal of colonization is to make me forget my past or leave to responsibility for myself to uncover my history. I am grateful to not have to explore and connect on my own and with the support of this space,

Many other agreed for feeling guilty about their spanglish but we had to stop to check ourselves and as a reminder that the Spanish language is a colonizer language and we do not know the tongues of our maternal native ancestor.

Aide: I feel like instead there is now a shift within our generation in comparison to our past generations that had to assimilate to survive. Now we digging up our buried cultures and history so we do not forget. In order to survive we must remember our past.

Eduardo: This passage reminded me about the Korean exchange program at his High School and how he stood up for his fellow exchange student and checked a teacher for scolding the exchange students for speaking Korean and not English. He connected that experience to being young and learning English in elementary school and also being scolded for not speaking English. When you police language around students that are in their right to speak to what is comfortable to them and made me feel safe when I wanted to be understood.

Arely: I want to keep speaking Spanish alive in my family because it makes me sad that my cousins refuse to speak Spanish. I am taking extra classes to improve my reading and writing in Spanish because I think my language is beautiful.

It was revealed within a few other reflections in the room that many students had a similar experience of being forced into speech therapy services or put in low comprehensive courses Spanish was their first language and they were still learning English. Offering the wrong referral services can highly impact the self-esteem of a young student who is made to feel their Spanish is a barrier. img_2888
The remainder our meeting was spent split into two groups. Students with Lily Be who was crafting their stories and students in our Diosa Latinx photo shoot. Towards the end of our meeting we all came together for an impromptu bruja circle photo opt. I never felt so fierce, magical and strong while hand and hand with my sisters. All dope Latina women with different strengths and experiences. All between us centuries of beauty and light we share within our blood through our ancestors.  

Meeting #3 07/18/2016


Session Objectives:

  1. Framing & big picture overview
  2. Review process and timeline
  3. Introduce Journey Guides
  4. Discuss ways we want to go on this journey together
  5. Introducing the ancient and ever-present power of storytelling
  6. Introduction to Genealogy
  7. Review the history of the creation and use of the concept of race
  8. Review the history of Latinxs in Chicago, specifically in the northwest side


  • 11am         Juliet & Violet: Welcome, Introductions and Icebreaker, Review Agenda
  • 11:20 am    Juliet/Violet: Group agreements  to create Safe Space
  • 11:35am     David: Framing & big picture overview,
  • 11:50am     Working Lunch
  • 12pm     David: The ancient and ever-present power of storytelling in our personal lives, the lives of our community, our organizations and as a tool to heal racial wounds.

Followed by first Storytelling assignment – Construct a short 3-5 minute story about what you have learned of your ancestor’s journey so far.

  • 1pm David: Interactive presentation on the history of the creation and use of the concept of race. Specifically the historical interconnectedness and impact of power and economics and racism on all people who reside(d) in America yesterday, and today.

First research and storytelling assignments: Consider the major social, economic and political conditions that shaped your ancestors’ decisions over the last 200 years.

  • 2pm Kerry:  Introduction to the Practice, Power, & Limitations of Genealogy

Question:  What are your hopes for this process?

  • Why We Do Genealogy?
  • How We Do Genealogy?
  • What sites are available to search for Latinx families?
  • What genealogical records are available?
  • What kind of information was included in these records?
  • What do we learn from the records?

Check-in:  How are you reacting to this process?

Genealogy Learning Outcomes

At the end of this project, you will know more about:

  • The value of genealogy as a way to connect with the strengths of our ancestors
  • How to search the major genealogy sites
  • How to find and document your family history
  • How to understand genealogical DNA test results
  • How your family history is part of your story

3:30pm Jesse Mumm: Latinxs in Chicago: waves of migrations, racialized housing

practices, a history of displacement and recreating home

4:45pm Juliet/Violet: Closing PAR Questions:

  • Jot down a few notes to yourself→ share in pairs→ Whole Group:What surprised you today?
  • Jot down a few notes to yourself→ share in pairs→ What do you want to learn more about?