Susan Yawa, 1970s

I am the daughter of Katherine and Preston who raised me in the company of change makers and racial dreamers. They spoke to us in the language of education, justice and freedom both in their words and actions. I entitled this conference flier ‘Osmosis’ because it has always felt to me that who I’ve become is the result of a gradual, at times unconscious assimilation of the ideas, knowledge, experiences my parents exposed me to. This object is one of many reminders of my heritage that I see every day. I do not take for granted its meaning and weight.

We Are One

Anonymous (Educator), 2019

Elephants represent prosperity to my family as I recall. It means that when you have family you are rich. Family to the Spanish and Creole culture are very strong and connected, and family is very important. Therefore, the string of elephants holding each other’s tail represents my family and culture – we are one.

Family Photo

Anna Valdes, ICCD Rego Park, 2019

If I had to select a special object in our home, it would be the portrait of Noah and I hanging on our wall. Noah came to me at four weeks old through the Foster Care system. He remained with me until a family member, not familiar to Noah, wanted to claim him. I had to turn him in at ten months old, just a few months prior to his first birthday, which we had been planning. It was the longest four weeks of my life, and had decided to visit a friend in the Midwest. During my time there, I got a call from the agency asking if Noah could be placed back with me (stupid question).

Naturally, I yelled, “YES!” He would return to our home two weeks from that call, six weeks total of being away from me. He came home, and I planned his party, while fighting a fever and bronchitis. The party was held at Jane’s Carousel. The day was more than just a birthday party, it was a celebration of my son coming back. Noah constantly points to that photo and calling out my name, “Mommy!”

Noah will be adopted, finally, in March. This is my precious object in our home, materially speaking that is.

Curry Crab & Dumplings

Asher S. P.S. 140, 2019

Curry crabs & dumplings been around for generation; not only these crabs are from the wild, they live on land or sea that’s the greatness of these angelic creatures. But not only the seasoning and the curry embrace this unique shell with in it soft meat and then it served with dumplings soft out of flour – what an easy eat.

Fli Kosove

Antigona B., P.S. 169K – Sunset Park School, 2019

This is a traditional food from my country. Everyone in my country will bake that for their special guests, especially for the first-time visitor to the house. It usually takes 3 hours to bake. However, it is delicious and worth the wait.  In addition, it helps us to build on our strength, faith, and patience throughout the baking process.  I would like to pass down this tradition to my kids.

Indian Bangals

Kanika, 2000s – Current

I wear these bangals every day. I actually can’t remember the last time I took them off. My mom gave them to me about six years ago. Growing up, wearing Indian clothes and jewelry was always synonymous with getting dressed up for weddings, holidays, or another special occasion. About seven years ago, I lived in rural India and traveled to several different parts of the country. I learned about my heritage and the history and diversity of Indian culture. I developed relationships with people, whether those from the villages that I called my home for the year, those I met through my fellowship program, or family members that I didn’t previously know, in ways that I could have never imagined. It humbled me, challenged my perceptions and assumptions, and taught me about humanity and connection. I learned how much I didn’t know. When I came back to New York, my mom noticed I had started wearing bangals regularly. I think it helped me feel like I was maintaining my connection to India and the past year. On her next visit to India, she came back with these. To me, they represent my family, my Indian identity, and a reminder of the people and experiences that enriched my life during that year.