“Dicen los cientificos que estamos hechos de átomos, pero a mí me dijo un pajarito que estamos hechos de historias” — Eduardo Galeano
“Scientists say we are made up of atoms, but a little birdie told me that we are made up of stories.” — Eduardo Galeano
Growing up as a son of Guatemalan and Mexican immigrant parents in South Central Los Angeles, I realized there was a complicated relationship we were supposed to have to stories. I spent a lot of my childhood in my and other family members’ homes. Most of my close family was Central American and I remember the atmosphere always being loud. Stories being shared about who did what, when, and to who. There were many sardonic quips at other folks’ expenses and stories about work or some family drama that everyone had a take on. The flipside of this boisterous cultural connection to tales was that as children we were often expected to be quiet, and remain silent. “Don’t share too much,” or more appropriately, “La ropa sucia se lava en casa (dirty clothes are washed in the house).”
It’s speaking into and about that silence that makes I Write Letters in my Thoughts by Mona Khalil so powerful. The words in this work enliven memories and experiences that often remain muted for brown youth and adults left to navigate a gauntlet in the United States. Khalil captures what it means to grow up in complex and vexed worlds that present impossible expectations. I Write Letters in my Thoughts is a synoptic view into one person’s journey through love, life, and ultimately towards liberation. This project is a testament to the power of storytelling as a historic healing method for communities who are often told to be quiet and patient. I Write Letters in my Thoughts allows us to realize that we are enough and that enough is enough; suffering is not our destiny, love is not impossible, and freedom is what we make it.
– Alex Villalpando, Ph.D
South Los Angeles
April 29th, 2017