December 1, 2022


Where I’m From

I am from the lawnmower, from john deere and store bought parts.

I am from the warm bright sun coming in from the sliding glass doors.

I am from the aloe vera, sunflowers, and the pine tree planted in my backyard, the amazon sword tail, the moonflower, the plants that grow through the top of the fish tank. 

I am from Sauerkraut ball making day  and cathothilic eastern and western europeans, from Debbie and Hugh and the Meldrums.

I am from the hotheads and smart people.

From “you can be anything” and “don’t become me, be better”.

I am from reformed catholics. My parents who shed their religion.

I’m from Lansing and Ireland and Poland, Pierogies and Kielbasa

From the waking up on christmas with my mom then going to sleep on christmas night at my dads, the 11 hour drives to the U.P., and the smell of my grandma’s christmas ham

I am from the pictures hanging in my mother’s house, the young Aidan staring down on me. The recipe of my great grandma hanging above the fireplace letting us know family traditions is still alive and well. 

By. Aidan Gallagher in the style of Where I’m From by George Ella Lyons

My Shadow Box By: Ingrid Ramirez

This Shadow Box represents my counter narrative, dominant narrative, and my chosen identity. When people look at me, they see a girl that always does her work, is smart and shy. But, this isn’t true because that’s just how I am around people I don’t know but once I get to know people and get comfortable around them that’s where I begin to open up to the crazy, real Ingrid. This is why I have chosen to include the butterflies in my shadow box because butterflies first need to open up from the chrysalis in order to become butterflies which who they really are. Also, I have included the flowers because I love flowers and my shadow box is so colorful because I love colors. The Guatemalan flag represents my nationality and my ethnicity, this is also where i was born. I love Guatemala am so proud to be Guatemalan because it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people and thanks to that place I know a 3rd language which is Maya Mam. I don’t understand how some people are embarrassed to be Guatemalan. Anyways, the makeup and all the quotes on the outside of my shadow box are my dominant narratives because men think all females should dress up nice and be glamorous all the time and wear make-up. Then, the quotes are what people think of me for example that I am weak and all other negative comments. But, I don’t care and I am not letting that be a problem that gets in  my way. That’s why I put that quote, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”, because I know that one day this will all pay off.

Beatriz’s shadow box

Many people may believe that I am a female who lacks strength and can’t be dependent for myself just because of my sex since I was not born as a male bodied person who holds more power. People who judge me over being a female think that I only care about my looks in order to fit into society’s expectations. A second thing that people may assume about me is that the city where I live is very dangerous and because of that I will turn out to be a criminal who is only doing bad things throughout their lifetime. The last assumption that gets assumed about me is that most people think I am Mexican because I speak spanish. Also, the reason why they think I’m Mexican is because there are many people that identify their ethnicity as Mexican so then they don’t ask you where you’re from but just assume that they are right. There are so many dominant narratives in the world that try to tell their “truth” which is basically assumptions they make based off of what they see and not real experiences. Dominant narratives are often written and told by people who have a lot of privilege because they think that it’s more important for people to hear them instead of others who actually can say real things that are not based off of judgment. This shadow box that I have created represents my true identities which are the counter narratives that explain a real story about my life. I have chosen to include the flags from where I’m from, religious objects, empowering quotes, and pictures of myself because these all tell you a story of who I am and how it proves all of the dominant narratives wrong. Most of these objects represent my assigned identities because they are the ones I was given and not what I chose for myself. I see myself as a hardworking successful female who many think I am not capable of obtaining. Living in Oakland does not make me become dangerous since I’m choosing a good path for myself to follow. My race is something I am not ashamed of because we are in fact really good people and my ethnicity which is being Guatemalan is something I’m proud of being. These stereotypes in the world don’t represent me because they are all false and won’t make me give up on who I really am.

This is a memoir comic about the day I found out about my fathers death.

There’s More To Life Than Just Pain

I feel like being alone

But in reality I just need someone to never let me go

Expressing my feelings through writing

Was just another way to cope with the pain

I was numb

Numb to the world

Numb to the pain

I used to write on my skin

My wrist was my canvas

The blade was my pen

Blood rushing down my wrist

Giving me the adrenaline I needed to feel alive


I wanted to feel alive

But inside I felt dead

My body was bottling up all the pain

I needed to make a change

Time passed the scars still remained

I look at them now and I’m not ashamed

It’s a reminder to me that I was strong enough to live

I know now that there is more to life than pain

Why I’m Caring As Hell

Why I’m Caring As Hell

By Yaqui


Growing up I thought no one would notice if I disappeared

I thought no one would care

I felt like I could run off and no one would see


I never had a normal childhood

I had to grow up fast

7 years old and already having thoughts of disappearing from the world

No one could understand

No could see

No one could understand my pain

Nobody cared to ask


I grew up

I learned

I found the strength in me to pick myself up

To care for myself

Because no one else did

I was my own best friend

I had to be


And maybe people in my life did care

But I needed someone to show it

To show me they cared

And not just say it


Since I never had a nurturer growing up

I became one

I cared so deeply for those around me

I made sure I didn’t just say

I made sure I showed them that I cared

I was there whenever they needed a shoulder to cry on

I was there to listen

I was there to talk

I was there to give advice

I became a protector

I was they’re shield


That’s why I’m so caring

Because I never had someone like me growing up

I made it my mission to care

For everyone

And everything

And maybe it’s a bad thing to care so deeply

I find myself getting hurt sometimes

But I learned to deal with that pain

I learned to cope

The hurting might never stop

But it will never stop me from caring

Caring is what makes me…me

Why I’m Fortunate as Hell

I’ve throw away food

While others go to bed on an empty stomach

I take 30 minute showers

While others don’t have fresh water

I complain when I don’t have the latest smartphone

While others do not even have electricity

Yes, I live in poverty

Yes, I am a Mexican Immigrant

But there are always people who have it worse than me

So yes, I’ll admit it

I have an easy life

So no more complaining about what I don’t have

It’s time to appreciate what I do have

It’s time to utilize what I do have

With my knowledge

My will to succeed

With those that love me

That’s all I need

I will make those that helped me proud

I will make myself proud

That is why I am fortunate as hell



20 years from now I want to have a foster child, but I will hopefully not be in any relationship. I will start my day by getting up at 6 am. By 8 am I will be heading to work as a counselor for troubled teens in the OUSD. While working with a few of these students, I see myself through these lost teen’s who have all struggled to figure out what to do with their own lives. I want to be able to provide a healthy environment for students who feel unsafe so that they can be able to know that they have a place to go instead of being on the streets and turning to bad habits to deal with their problems. I also want to be able to be someone that these students can trust without thinking I am going to “snitch” on them. The job of helping troubled teens if very important to me because currently as a teen I struggle trying to meet all the expectations my parents have, and it’s very stressful to know I can’t be what they want me to be. After my day at work is over, I will go home and finish my day by spending time with my child and having a lovely dinner.

Romeo and Juliet relates to Oakland 2017

My Romeo & Juliet Recreation: Gangs cause violence but can we make a change : Spoken Word / poem

Is it too late too change? That’s the question that keep running through my brain

Two gangs do you think this a game

People dying families crying and we don’t know who to blame

All from a ancient grudge people getting shot from gun to gun

Gunpowder and blood mixing this my life. live in oakland

My life has always been a struggle growing up has always been a hustle

Don’t ever judge a book by it’s cover

My family always felt pain but ain’t never blamed

Anything my family went through I went through

All this acting and all these complaints don’t you know that we can’t blame or be blamed

All oakland residents being put to shame

The two gangs are going to be blamed

Everyone isn’t the same they aren’t gonna say a name

Police are searching and others are hurting

In a gang there a things that you have to commit too

Sometime you don’t realize what you have to do

Do you wonder why?

Do you ever wonder all the pain you’re putting others through

Both sides don’t like each other but what will happen if one from each side do

Do you kill them to? Or would you pull them through

Everyone has background and you may not know it

Some people take it differently than others they probably don’t wanna show it

Don’t force them to show it it

If you’re a real friend help them through it

Putting a life of someone else’s in your hands is ruff

But don’t doubt them help them up

I wanna make a change I can do anything I put my mind too

Do you wanna make a change and change your city

Our population is getting smaller

Help the your city change and give it a better reputation and name

Make our city grown taller don’t hate appreciate your life cause there’s people that live just too fight

Spoken Word Artist Statement

By Nakiah Landerth


In my spoken word / poem I am going to talk about gangs and violence and how it connects to oakland today 2017. In this spoken word it talks about gangs and when you’re in a gang there’s things you have to do. This spoken word is going to connect to Romeo & Juliet through the gangs and the violence that comes with it. In Romeo and Juliet a lot of main characters die because of  violence but two die of love. This spoken word can also show love because throughout the poem I’m mostly talking about how I want to change my home town oakland.  After this spoken word their is a cast list and in this cast list I have all the cast members from Romeo and Juliet  . On the other side of the cast list I have my own cast list. In my cast list I have used my family. I used my Family because my auntie and her boyfriend are close but my family don’t agree with the relationship so they are at ¨ WAR¨. I had a choice to do one or  two options and I did because I felt like it would make more sense to have cast members that go with my poem.

Nacia’s Fun and Colorful Shadow Box


Hello viewer my name is Nacia Russell, a 14 year old freshman at Life Academy, and you’re looking at my very fun colorful shadow box. My shadow box to me basically represents my personality and who I see myself as. As you can tell by my shadow box I am a very fun, outgoing, colorful, loving person. Not many people see me that way. I’m going to explain to you what all my objects represent about and to me.

First off let’s start at the top, as you can see there are a lot of twisted pipe cleaners, two different flags, a cup with white paper and two hearts on a stick. The flags represent my ethnicity and how I see myself my grandmother is Japanese so I hold that close but I was born in the USA so I hold that close as well. The cup represents how milk makes everyone strong so by me drinking it I become a stronger woman, and the hearts represent how I have my heart set on the two parts of me, Japan and America. The springs represent how I’m very fun and how my fun comes in different ways and colors. Now moving to the actual box part, you can see I have a picture collage, pokemon cards, pins, rainbow stickers, beads, a name made of pipe cleaners and a beautiful zebra printed floor. Starting off with the collage, this collage is in the back for a reason it represents my past life and me growing up trying to figure out who I am. It also shows how much I appreciate family even though my parents might not be together anymore I still hold all of us as a family dear to my heart. The beads are honestly just up for decoration. Now the pokemon cards are up because I admire pokemon so much it’s just something I’ve grown fond of. The pins are shows and movies that I have interest in and from my first trip to Las Vegas. Going to the name the name says Nana, not like saying grandma, it’s actually my nickname given to me when I was a newborn and it’s something I really enjoyed being called because my family uses that name more than my biological name which is Nacia. Finally I have rainbows to represent how I am very supportive of the LGBT community and how I’m a very kind hearted and loving person. After explaining all of this I feel like overall my box really showed that the dominant narrative of me being an African-American young woman is a struggle and that all Black people don’t know any better when really the struggle is growing up and trying to understand how life works and ways to deal with growing up around stereotypes.

In conclusion this shadow box shows where life has taken me so far and how I really appreciate the life I’m living at the moment. It shows how I’m worried more about life now that I am about life later/ the future. It might even also show my chosen and assigned identity, but most of all it shows my counter narrative, my race, my gender identity and expression and most of all how I am a human being who cares about others as well as herself.

#LifeAcademy, #ShadowBoxes, #EthnicStudies, #MyLife, #FunPerson

I walk slowly to go further.

My name is Rocensky Jean Baptiste and I was born in 2002.  I am 14 years old.  I have lived in the Republic of Haiti. In school, I like to read, and when I am out of school, I like to go to the library. I am very nice. I became good at this because I have an objective.  In the future, I would like to be a doctor. I dream of saving lives.

I immigrated to New York one year ago.  My life changed in many ways when I immigrated.  The change I’m happiest about is Have a new life,with all because I can learn what I want because I people who help me and, who support me and, I can believe has a better future in the following year. On the other hand, I am sad that I leave all my friends and most of my family close. Now I speak English , Creole, and French, which is overwhelming!

There was a time in my life when I experienced injustice.  This was the time when I defended my little brother in his school, when these classmates treated him badly and made him ridiculous everywhere. In my opinion, this was unjust because no one has the right to punish or condemn someone because he does not like him, and we must know our neighbor before we criticize.