Power of the Pen

Power of the Pen

 

Introduction by Kyle Acheson

"I’m in a place in my life I never thought I would be, graduated college and heading into a masters. Writing has been a huge part of me owning the fact that I belong in these spaces that weren’t set up for my success and sort of reclaiming my narrative."

After thirteen years calling this country home, Camila Ozores Silva learned she was undocumented and her life shifted. Her scholarship was taken away and she was left facing the challenge of financing her education without aid, but she was not without help as her family rallied around her aspirations.

"I realized then that my education was no longer just mine. This was for my parents, immigrants to a country that tries and strips them of their culture and rejects them in so many ways."

Of the nearly 2 million Americans that graduated from college*, thousands were undocumented*. Camila's experiences are shared by 1.8 million undocumented youth and nearly 20,000 students in enrolled in higher education. And yet, their stories are often hidden, invalidated, swept to the margins, kept out of sight. Camila pierces this silence as she writes:

“The first step, for me, to thriving while holding marginalized identities was telling myself and showing myself I was worth the introspection and the inner exploration. I was worth moving through the pain that comes up when I write about certain experiences, because after the pain, I am whole and I know just who I am. And when I know who I am, no one and nothing can stand in my way."

She is a dreamer in every sense, a self-described activist who strives for liberation through her writing. In reclaiming her narrative, her identity, she illuminates stories and experiences that might otherwise be left in the dark.

 

 

Writing by Camila Ozores Silva, republished with permission

Being Undocumented

Being undocumented in this country is like holding your breath for a long time and not knowing just when or where you can let it go. Sometimes the discovery of this status feels like having a nightmare where you're running towards a door but the faster you run, the farther it gets. This door holds the dreams and goals you've had your whole life. Or sometimes it feels like you're screaming but no one can hear you, no one wants to hear you. This identity is an isolated one. It's one people are often very uneducated about or are very hateful towards. This identity tells you that you crashed the party and no one wants you here. But it's not a party, it's country. And the people that don't want you there have already stripped your ancestors of free labor and work to build the land they are trying to claim as their own.

Being undocumented in this country is like holding your breath for a long time and not knowing just when or where you can let it go. Sometimes the discovery of this status feels like having a nightmare where you're running towards a door but the faster you run, the farther it gets. This door holds the dreams and goals you've had your whole life. Or sometimes it feels like you're screaming but no one can hear you, no one wants to hear you. This identity is an isolated one. It's one people are often very uneducated about or are very hateful towards. This identity tells you that you crashed the party and no one wants you here. But it's not a party, it's country. And the people that don't want you there have already stripped your ancestors of free labor and work to build the land they are trying to claim as their own.

Being an undocumented first generation college student has been the biggest challenge of my life. But in the same sense, it has been the greatest blessing. I've learned so much about my resilience, and about my community's tenacity and power. I learned to never take anything for granted and how to appreciate all I have. Out of thousands of college graduates this May, I will be one of the less than 5% who are undocumented students. We did it, with no financial aid, and often no scholarships. With little systemic support, with a lack of access to resources, and with almost no representation. We did it, with the hope to make our parents proud, with the hopes to empower our brothers and sisters. 

Being undocumented in this country is a story of war, blood, tears, and survival. We are and have been ready for battle. Our value and worth is more than the hate the media spews about us and we will never be silenced. Our existence, our bodies, our souls are not illegal. Humans cannot be illegal. We rise up, we fight back, we make each other proud and we keep going. 

 
 

Liberation - A Poem

I used to think liberation would come to me in the form of citizenship, as a small
American flag I would wave with tears streaming down my face.
I thought liberation would whisper in my ear, tell me I finally belong, I’m finally visible.
I thought liberation would come to me on a voting ballet or an airplane ticket or maybe a
license without the word “temporary” written at the bottom.
But now I know,
Liberation is not how other people perceive me,
it’s not how the country invalidates my identity.
Liberation is the drive to wake up every day, knowing the anxiety inside my head is telling me
to sleep forever.
Liberation is the resilience to keep striving for my dreams, even though my future isn’t
clear or promised.
Liberation is how I choose to love myself wholly, despite my body not looking like the
ones all over social media.
I used to think liberation was something I needed to receive externally.
Now I know, liberation has always been inside me, waiting for me to embrace it.

 
Butterfly wreath 2.png
 

watercolors: Tatiana Bordiuzhou; photo: Pietra Schwarzler; graphic design: Christina Roman
Real People. Real Lives.

Real People. Real Lives.

Azul Otra Vez (Blue, Revisited)

Azul Otra Vez (Blue, Revisited)