Growing up my dad and mom always took me to the library on 125th and 145th street in Harlem. They saw the importance of books; the knowledge that can be shared from the words beautiful put together in one single page that made up a chapter, made up a book, and made up of some of my best childhood memories. My parents always found a way to buy me books and even now they continue to push book reading on my younger siblings. I am always thankful to my parents for building that relationship towards books.
My relationship with books has grown in the past couple of years. Books played an important part of my life. Like a best friend I found them supporting me, they were there when I was confused about life and my identity. In HS my global studies teacher Mr. Murphy gave me the book “Down These Means Streets” by Piri Thomas which changed my life in many ways. Soon after I found myself reading Nelson Mandela’s biography, revisiting House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, eating away every page of the biography of Che Guevara, and crying as I read Assata by Assata Shakur. These books were there for me contextualizing my life in America, holding me when I thought I was alone and had no one to speak to about my undocumented status. Thus, I was so thrilled to read about the opening of La Casa Azul Bookstore on Colorlines in 2012. La Casa Azul Bookstore is “dedicated to providing cultural and educational programs via literature and art in East Harlem. It is [their] vision to foster public awareness and appreciation of the arts by being a focal point where people come to find unique gifts and participate in culturally-based workshops that celebrate Latino traditions”, as it is stated on their website. I believe it is more than that, it is a mecca for Latino authors and I think a very critical space for young people like me that are searching for home , for identity, and for voice.
The NYSYLC’s UndocuMic came out of the Dreaming in Ink creative writing workshops where many undocumented youth worked on written pieces about their experiences and needed a space to read it out loud and share it with the world. UndocuMic’s are open mic’s for undocumented immigrant people that offers a creative safe space to reclaim their voice and story by literally sharing their poetry, spoken word pieces, music, monologues, and Coming Out stories. NYSYLC has had numerous UndocuMic’s since 2011 in their tiny conference room.
Last Summer in 2012, Aurora Anaya-Cerda (founder of the bookstore) offered us a Sunday afternoon at the bookstore to host an UndocuMic . To us this was an amazing opportunity to bring undocumented people in a beautiful space like La Casa Azul Bookstore. Over 40 people (even from California) came out on a Sunday in July to participate and to enjoy the performances at the UndocuMic. Since then La Casa Azul Bookstore has continued to be a great supporter and ally in the movement. It is with great honor and joy to inform you that La Casa Azul Bookstore and NYSYLC will be partnering off to bring you an UndocuMic series starting this March 2013. We hope to see you all there as we kick off the UndocuMic series on March 24. Come share your poetry, music, Coming Out Story, or just come and enjoy!!! -Sonia Guinansaca
with Aurora , founder of La Casa Azul Bookstore
July 2012 Undocumic @ La Casa Azul Bookstore
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