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

“My dad and brother got deported and my mom and older sister left with them. Now it’s just my sister and I. I remember how hard it was to see kids with their families while I sat there thinking, ‘Why aren’t I able to be here with mine?'”


To the Things Holding Me Down

To The Things Holding Me Down:

At times it’s myself always going towards the wrong path, never wanting to go to school in the morning, always wanting to go out late and never being home. I’m always having negative thoughts. When I try to improve I bring myself down by saying, “I could never do it! I will never be like that!”

At times it’s family problems. My family is always on my mind, even though they aren’t here with me. I need them here to show me love, back me up, educate me and teach me how to be a man. The only person here to support and guide me is my older sister. I feel that is a major reason behind my struggle of not being able to rise up. My sister is only nineteen. She’s not studying anymore, she is forced to work so we can have a place to sleep. Thanks to her, I have a home. From her I learned that if I struggle today it will all be worth it tomorrow. She taught me to fight for those whom I love and never let a little problem affect where I want to be in the future.

At times I feel like it’s society just knocking a few of us down by treating us differently. As kids, all we want to do is play and have fun but once we’re older we have to follow certain rules and some people have more privileges than others.

I remember being in the sixth grade when I started to lose my family. My dad and brother got deported and my mom and older sister left with them. Now it’s just my sister and I. I remember how hard it was to see kids with their families while I sat there thinking, “Why aren’t I able to be here with mine?”

Being here  for a while without them has made me a stronger person. I know I have to be resilient and focus on all the good things that happen once the bad things go away. Now I cherish what I have, thanks to being without my parents. It’s true, you don’t really know what you have until you lose it. I’ll admit, there are times I don’t know what to do and I wonder how life would be if I were with my parents instead of struggling here with my sister. But I feel like all of this is my motivation to keep moving forward and do something important in life to make my family proud.

With strength,

Luis N.


Dear Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

Let me socialize and meet new people. Let me talk to someone without trying to analyze their every word and movement, trying to figure out what they’re thinking and where they’d rather be than in front of an anxious mess. It’s always the same routine, thinking I am the epitome of awkward and undeserving of friends. You followed me up to the day I felt electricity in my chest and I was too scared to speak to the people I loved so dearly. My friends whom I’ve known for so long felt like strangers because I was too afraid the words coming out of my mouth weren’t good enough. You continued visiting me until I isolated myself and told people I was just “tired.” To this day you follow me in every conversation and every social interaction I have. To this day I refuse to let you take control of me. Not again.

Love,

Brianna


Dear Self Love

Dear Self Love,

I crave you. I crave you when I see myself in the mirror. I crave you when I start comparing myself to the models in magazines. I crave you when it’s hot outside and I decide to not to wear shorts because I don’t like how big my thighs look in them. I want you more than anything. I want to be able to love myself inside and out. I know I’m full of amazing, creative, and unique ideas. I know I’m smart but the only problem is I don’t believe in myself. I want to be able to love my smile the way my mom does. I hate being insecure, I want to find the beauty in a beauty mark. How do you get someone to love themselves? Teach me, please.


I believe self love is very important. Self love to me, is when you don’t hate yourself for being a certain way or a certain color. Self love is embracing the freckles on your cheeks instead of covering them up with makeup. Self love is learning to love the stretch marks on your skin. Self love is seeing negative comments on a picture you posted and not being influenced to take it down. I disagree when people say, “If you aren’t happy with yourself how do you get to be happy with someone else?” I believe someone who loves you and compliments you daily could empower you and show you how beautiful and smart you are. I once read a quote, “I loved you so good, you started loving yourself. That was my gift for you and you were mine.”

How do I get my imperfections to look stunning in my eyes?

Sincerely,

Hoana G.


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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