Sponsored by Deborah Bussel 

On October of 2020, during my time at Fountainhead Residency, I had the honor to meet with the folks from the organization WECOUNT! in South Florida. This amazing organization serves as a crucial community resource for its members, who are primarily Latinx undocumented migrants working across many labor industries. Because of the nature of my work I knew automatically that a collaboration with WeCount! was inevitable. With the generous support of The Shepard Broad Foundation and Deborah Bussel  I was able to lead an embroidery workshop on May 1st  to celebrate international workers day! 

For a while now I had been thinking about how I constantly introduce myself as undocumented, and naturally the work that I do in many ways has helped me let go of the weight of being labeled "illegal." As migrant people we have learned to live in constant fear and shame. Policies have made us believe that migration is a crime and in turn we become criminals. This idea of not belonging because of the lack of documentation is one that carries an immense amount of embarrassment and discomfort. Recently I asked myself "are you really not ashamed to be undocumented anymore?" In an attempt to be honest with myself, (and don't get me wrong I wanted so badly for the answer to be yes, yes I'm not ashamed anymore), I found that I had been shying away from having this "coming out" conversation with new friends because I was too ashamed to admit who I am politically. I was, and still am, living under the same fear that people will see me as less than because of my status. I am living blanketed by a thick layer of shame. 

During this workshop I wanted to for one moment help others, and myself, think of all the positive things that we could possibly be. I asked everyone to embroider a word, a feeling, an expression that celebrated our migration, culture and history. Something that would exist beyond shame and would honor who we are and where we come from.  In many ways this project could not have been anything other than embroidery because of its deep connection to our native blood and its healing powers. I've always seen embroidery as one of the most beautiful art forms. It carries a rich history that has been passed down from generation to generation. It's a simple method. One takes a needle and thread and holds in their hand the ability to make punctures turn into patterns, words or figures. 

Each individual embarked on their own journey to rid themselves of this shame and embrace the things that make them great. Like a large blanket, our community is made up of unique individual voices and stories. When we come together, stitch by stitch, we form something bigger than ourselves. We form bonds. Threads that hold us together and give us power, strength and love. It is through these marks that I hoped we could each come forth to acknowledge our history free of the humiliation that ignorant, racist, policies have inflicted on our brown bodies. 

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