Category Archives: Latino Writers Collective

Give a Book to Migrant Youth

Walking on the Ledge

brown like me

farmworker youth

2011: "Year of the Farmworker Child"

As many of you know, I grew up working as a migrant farmworker/child laborer. You also know I’ve fictionalized some of those memories as part of the Latino Writers Collective of Kansas City.

I’m proud to help LWC provide writers workshops to migrant youth on both the Kansas and Missouri side of the state line. In the workshops we work to identify, validate, and listen to the long silenced voices of migrant youth — voices that have been pushed down, hidden, ignored, and abused. For many of the youth in the workshops, it is the first time they’ve acknowledge the devastation migrant life has them and their families. Yet, it is also inspiring to see the youth realize the gift that comes from the fields and the power of their words and voices.

Cesar Chavez

Chavez would be 84 today

Today, Cesar Chavez’ birthday, is special for migrant youth. And that is why today, I ask — no, I beg you Latino authors to donate a book to LWC’s migrant youth project. Our writers workshops for migrant youth don’t just help students tell their stories, we help them learn about other stories, other voices, other lives. Last year, we gave out free copies of Sandra Cisneros’ “House on Mango Street” — many of them autographed by Sandra. We’d like to continue this tradition but we need your help.

If you are a Latino author, and believe in the message of Cesar Chavez, please consider donating an autographed copy (or copies) of your book (or books) to the Latino Writers Collective migrant youth program.

Perhaps you aren’t a Latino author but have a favorite or maybe you treasure a Latino-themed book, please consider gifting it to our program.

A book, a voice, a word can change their world — and ours.


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Filed under Diversity, Kansas, Latino, Latino Writers Collective

Migrant Students Harvest Hope

Latino Writers Collective members sign autographs after leading the Harvest of Hope Leadership Academy (HHLA) writer’s workshop, June 24, 2010.

I did something I never thought I’d do.
I autographed a book written by someone else.

Oh, and it wasn’t just any writer or any book — it was Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street.” And the truth is I did it proudly and repeatedly.

With Latino Writers Collective members Xanath Caraza, Gabriela Lemmons, Sofiana Olivera, and Jason Sierra, I helped lead a poetry workshop for Harvest of Hope. This college immersion program for migrant youth in high school lets students experience college life for three weeks. They take classes and learning how to set and manage their educational goals. As a former migrant farmworker and child laborer, I look forward to this workshop all year. It fulfills me.

We began this year’s workshop by sharing a meal with the students in one of the cafeteria dining rooms at the University of Kansas. I chose a table featuring mostly young women. I just felt comfortable with the energy they radiated. Besides being a Gay Latino, I’m never really quite sure how young Latino men will react to me and I don’t react well to machismo. Those at our table shared information — nothing too personal — it was the typical dinner chat.

Then the workshop began. Continue reading


Filed under Latino, Latino Writers Collective