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

“I want to be known as the person that stood up for the people that couldn’t  stand up for themselves. I want to be known as the woman who stood up for justice. I want to be that woman in protests not afraid of speaking up.”


Dear Future Self,

Tell me I made it, that I graduated high school and college and I am being productive with my life. Tell me I didn’t go down the wrong path, that I learned from my family’s mistakes. Tell me I didn’t quit and become another Latina who gave up. Tell me I took advantage of all the opportunities I had, and I am still thankful for this amazing privilege to attend school and be productive with my life. Tell me I’ve been a good role model to my siblings. Tell me my family’s sweat and struggles paid off that it wasn’t a waste of their time, coming here and going through a lot. Tell me my parents are proud of what I’ve become.

All my life I remember wanting to help others but never really knowing how. Now my biggest dream is to become a nurse. I want to help others by taking care of them. Tell me I accomplished my goal of becoming a nurse and I am helping others.

Tell me I’ve made a change. I hated seeing my grandmother and tía feel shy to talk because they didn’t speak English. Tell me I did something about that and people aren’t shy to talk to me in their native language. We speak such a beautiful language, we shouldn’t feel embarrassed to express ourselves. I want to be seen as a reliable person that you could talk to.

In our families, society, and in the world I’ve seen and learned many things. One of the biggest issues I find important is patriarchy and sexism. Throughout our lives, we as women are told we need a man and we must learn how to cook and take care of the kids. When and if I do get married I hope to share these responsibilities with the person I am with. He won’t be like my father who is very machista. My dad would constantly tell me I need to learn how to cook or else I wasn’t ready to get married. At family gatherings none of my male relatives would do any cooking aside from barbecuing. Tell me my family changes the way they see this. We as women could do more. Tell me I’ve been a good influence to other women.

Make sure I am leaving a legacy that is worth remembering. Tell me you are doing great things with your life and you’ve accomplished your goals and made a change in your life. I hope to hear and live this soon.


The younger Maria G.

My Story

Dear Future Self,

I hope these social toxins we have now aren’t carried into future generations. I want to see a positive generation even if there is some negativity such as racism and stereotyping. I want to see more happiness than sadness within the next seven generations.

Changes I would like to see in the future are in schools. Students aren’t having fun at school due to the amount of work they are getting and the lack of time they have to complete it. They need nicer teachers and better classes in many schools. For me, better classes have teachers that actually teach students in preparation for their future careers. A priority I want to see is more students graduating from high school because I feel that many students don’t take school seriously. If there were more students who graduate from school in the world there would be a lot more jobs. School is a serious thing and many students who don’t take it seriously usually end up living in poverty and hardships.

One main thing I would want to see eliminated in the future are gangs because they affect adults and students in a dramatic way. Gangs are one the of the reasons why students don’t graduate because they take the gangs more seriously than school. Sometimes they don’t realize their future will be affected because they care about their gang so much they end up failing school and scramble to make some type of money in the future.

If all those things happened, the world would be a much better place. Many jobs would open up, there would be very few lazy people and there wouldn’t be as much gang violence. I hope this comes true in the future and remember, take school seriously because it will affect your future!


9th grade Ronald A.


Dear Future Michelle,

It’s 14 year old Michelle and I am going to remind you of the truth. In my ethnic studies class I learned about colorism, racism, police brutality, oppression, patriarchy, sexism, etc. Today life is disappointing because people have been brainwashed into believing that the world has changed. But has the world really changed? We have become so ignorant and blind from the truth. Why is it that when we see police we fear them and not feel safe? Why do we call this country the “ land of the free” when people don’t even live in peace?

For example, people of color can’t even walk down the street without being pulled over by the police. Patriarchy surrounds us, men have more power than women. Women are getting paid less than men and women aren’t truly considered as leaders. An example of a stereotypes is, men are “meant to work” and women “are meant to stay home and clean” and women “can’t do men’s work.” Kids of color are embarrassed of their skin color they are believed to be someone ugly, dumb, and a bad child. Colorism is bad because it begins at a young age which will affect them in the future, affect their self-esteem, and not be proud of who they are.

It’s like everything was swept under a carpet and pretending like it’s not there but, it is there and it is being seen as “normal.” This is how life is now and it’s wrong and disappointing. I believe it’s time for a change. I want to be known as the person that stood up for the people that couldn’t  stand up for themselves. I want to be known as the woman who stood up for justice. I want to be that woman in protests not afraid of speaking up. I want to inspire people to do the right thing, I want to be seen as a leader. I want to be the person you look up to. Someone that never stopped believing that there could be a change and keeps fighting for people’s rights. I want to make and be part of a positive difference. I don’t want to be remembered as a bystander.

We need to act now we need to do it for our next generation. We should fix and accept our mistakes and learn from them. If we don’t, nothing will get better. Hopefully, after we fought and made a huge difference,  people are walking down the street without fear. Kids of color are proud and not ashamed of their skin. Women can stand up and become leaders without being judged. And women are getting paid the same as men. People aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe and have become strong and everyone is being treated the same. Only then can it really be said that this is the land of the free.


Michelle J.

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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