Selections from “We Are What They Envisioned”: Letters to Family

“Just how your voice has been attempted to be silenced, mine is too, but I won’t let them. I scream and get louder…”

Strength to Women

To the Women in my Family Who are my Strength,

I am a product of constant oppression through expressions like, “You’re going to get pregnant.” and “You hit like a girl.”  Those sexist jokes don’t faze me. Everything you’ve gone through, I’m going through. What once was yours unfortunately is now mine but just like you, I’m kicking butt! Through you, I’ve learned to be stubborn and do whatever I want which is the opposite of what society teaches women. You’ve also taught me to be loving and caring. Just like you once were, I am destroying all those “you can’t, what if’s” and other assumptions by being a female getting an education and simply refusing to please men because that seems to be my “only purpose in life.” Just how your voice has been attempted to be silenced, mine is too, but I won’t let them. I scream and get louder because I will not be silenced. We’ve come way too far to give up now. As the years go by, we continue to get stronger and smarter. You’ve implanted resilience in me and as long as there is hope, fear does not exist. We are fearless, Hispanic women, regardless of what others say. We have survived through a lot and the end is far from near. We are the definition of resistance, fearless, and beautiful.

With gratitude,

Stephanie C.

Generation in My Eyes

Hey Dad,

I know you’ve noticed the change in the world. When it comes to education, equality, social media, government, things aren’t the same as they were five years ago. I’m sitting in a room with twenty other students. We all have our own lives, we all come with a different story. In this generation we really don’t know what another person is going through because they’re scared of telling someone and having that person tell multiple people. To older people we are the “screw up generation.” They assume the worst from every millennial baby. In this generation we were forced, yes forced, to grow up earlier than we anticipated. Overall we are called multiple things but they don’t know what most of us go through or are all about….

In this generation where people are afraid of commitment, I’m one of the few looking for love. I’ve seen many people get hurt over love; it’s understandable but things aren’t always easy nowadays. I’m just a fourteen year old girl who has had her heart broken, cheated on, lied to, and played, but I’ve also learned from these experiences. These obstacles made me the strong, independent person I am today. I was taught that even without a person by my side I know I can still make it. I gained confidence and learned things I didn’t even know about myself. In this generation you need to learn to love yourself before you can love another.

My life isn’t perfect at all. There are days, weeks, sometimes even months where I would disappear and push everyone away. Now I look back at those days and realize I was running away from my problems. I let little things get to me and I didn’t look on the bright side. Depression, anxiety, pain, it’s always going to be there but so is excitement, happiness, and love.

This generation isn’t one of the best but it’s one everyone can learn from. Kids and teenagers have grown and you can see the change within them. We are the next generation. We are tough, wise, and we know how to have a good time.


Annette, a fourteen year old trying to live

No More Struggles

Dear Mom,

You are the best and I love you. I know we don’t talk as much as we used to but when we do I hear a voice of a warrior. I have seen you overcome many struggles, you are resilient.  Although you experienced difficulties coming to the USA with two young daughters, you didn’t give up. You always find ways to put food on the table and pay rent. I know you are tired of waking up at six a.m. everyday to work at a fast food chain. You are resilient, raising seven children whom you love and who love you back. I know it’s hard mom. I know how you feel and I want it to stop but I can’t do as much right now. When I see you sad I feel as if I gave up on you. It makes me feel hopeless and want to just give up on school and life. Then I remember our family comes from a long line of warriors, we  don’t let anything get in our way. Your children learned this from you.

I remember being in the eighth grade when my brother told me you and my dad were going to get a divorce. I was playing video games and as soon as the words came out I stopped. I felt as though the world had stopped. I was scared and shocked and thought my brother was lying but his sad face showed he wasn’t. I busted into tears as my brother told me to pack my things. It was all happening too fast, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I was going to move with you or my dad, or if we were all going to separate. Mom, you would do anything for us to have a better life. The reason I get good grades is because of you. I don’t do it to get rewards, I do it because I don’t want to see you struggling anymore. You gave me this life and now I want you to enjoy it. Thank you for always being here, not only for me but for the family.

To do this Mom, I’m going to have to work hard in school and learn how to take more responsibility. I’m going to continue getting good grades, go to college to get the dream job I want and become an NBA player. I’m going to help others become resilient like you and me. I want people to overcome their struggles and not worry so they could enjoy their life.  


Emiliano M.

We Are What They Envisioned

By Students of Roosevelt High School
9th Grade Ethnic Studies Class

Available for Purchase

We Are What They Envisioned: Expressions of Resistance, Resilience, and Re-imagination explores how young people must navigate and carry the histories of their ancestors as they walk towards their own futures. Inspired by Octavia Butler, Tupac Shakur, Kendrick Lamar’s song DNA, and the concept of becoming their ancestors’ wildest dreams, this collection of writing by 74 ninth grade student authors reflects on the past of colonization, the present of current family struggles and successes, and the future of students’ own legacies.

We Are What They Envisioned is 826LA and Roosevelt High School’s third Ethnic Studies book collaboration. This annual book series began in 2014 when groundbreaking teachers Roxana Dueñas, Eduardo López, and Jorge López created the Ethnic Studies course “Boyle Heights and Me” for ninth grade students at Roosevelt High School. Previous publications You Are My Roots and This Is My Revolution have been taught as classroom texts in a graduate course at the Harvard School of Education and in Ethnic Studies classes in high schools throughout the country.

Cover by: Lexx Valdez | Designed by: Rachel Mendelsohn


Read more excerpts from We Are What They Envisioned and see photos from the book release party here.

Purchase We Are What They Envisioned in-stores or online at the Time Travel Mart here.

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