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Stories for Liberation

In collaboration with Long Island Wins we are proud to invite you to enjoy our ongoing weekly series of poignant, individual stories from our immigrant communities.  This month, we are returning to the border crossing stories that launched the series.  We share this introduction written by our founder and director.

What does it mean to give voice without a name? At a time when writers are not safe to read their own stories, what will happen next?

​It is with sadness, but also with urgency and pride, that we anonymously share the writing of fifteen young people who crossed the border, most of them alone, because it wouldn’t be safe to share these stories in a traceable way.

We share the hope and the light in their voices at this moment of time when, in the words of Nancy Pelosi, “the Statue of Liberty has tears in her eyes.”

​These young people are part of a movement to gather stories from those whose voices have been silenced and unsung—started 21 years ago by Herstory Writers Workshop, working with women and adolescent girls in Long Island’s three jails, with women in domestic violence shelters, with students struggling with poverty, racism and inequality of opportunity, and with communities torn apart by violence and hatred.

​Can their stories help hold up the torch of compassion and welcome, and bring back the light that the oppressors are trying to extinguish? Can they help the most vulnerable among us hold on through the darkness, uncertainty, and danger?

Erika Duncan,  November 2017

A Message From Erika Duncan, Founder Of Herstory Writers Workshop

We entered 2018 with more uncertainty than ever for those who have managed to establish strong roots in this country.  Minute to minute, day to day, and month to month, one cannot know what protections will be taken away, as countries of origin affected keep changing-- to be used as political footballs-- with the fate of DACA Dreamers, and those who experienced temporary protection (TPS) after natural disasters or political violence, unstable, uncertain and chaotic. 


 How then do we balance realistic caution and increasing our resilience, resistance and hope?  How do we balance the need to remain hidden and to quietly plan for the worst case scenario-- deportation and separation of families-- while gathering strength and finding new modalities of action and protection?   In our schools, in our health care system, and within the myriad of legal networks that call for revelation in order to acquire help, how do we distinguish friend from foe?

These are the questions that confront the young people who near the age of legality in this country, when they might be able to extend a helping hand. These are the questions that confront those who work with the immigrant population.  These are questions that confront the new mothers who carry babies across to border inside their bodies, trying to pass the torch of safety to those who are yet unborn. 


We are hopeful that each new voice that rises up-- whether anonymously or with a name attached-- can add to the attempt to use our stories to wake sleeping hearts to our common humanity, strengthening the web we are building, in which unity and compassion may light the way to true change.  

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