Professor McCabe Brings Jesus to Lehman

By J. Manuel Rivera Cortes

Jennifer McCabe’s headshot. Photo courtesy of Lehman College.

“Jesus Hopped the A Train” rolled into Lehman Oct. 17 thru 20, directed by veteran actor and assistant professor, Jennifer McCabe.  “As a director I get everything from my actors,” she said. “I am 100 percent an actor’s director.”  Having grown up in the theatre, McCabe explains it is a second family to her, and she brings the strength of that bond to her directing.

McCabe has over 30 years’ experience within theatre.  The child of thespians who lacked child care, she began watching her parents’ rehearsals at the age of two.

At 13, she joined their world, and began acting onstage while playing soccer for her school team. The latter would garner her a scholarship to college, where she slowly found that theatre was her love and motivating force.  To pursue it professionally she earned an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School. After graduation she worked for a majority of the playhouses on Theatre Row, and this motivated her to become an educator.

Junior Shantelle Watkins, theatre major and business minor, said of McCabe’s directing style, “She makes sure we have a full background. Her technique helps us analyze and go deeper.”  

Senior Christine D’Onofrio, a theatre major in the Adult Degree Program, said, “She makes us feel safe.  She is able to pull things out of us. In this play, the character work is so important, we give meaning to it with Prof. McCabe guidance.” Both agreed that McCabe has brought them and their classmates into the creative process, and made them molders of the drama.

McCabe explained the idea for the production came to her in conversation with Professor Richard DesRochers, Director of the Multimedia and Theatre programs, who encouraged her to direct it for the Fall 2018 semester. For her, the most memorable scene of her most recent play is Act 2, Scene 4. “This scene feels like the final countdown.  It is very tense, and every player helps to build that tension.” She hopes that this production sheds light on what it means to take responsibility and on the extent to which we have become desensitized and disillusioned in our society.  It addresses the state of the criminal justice system, faith and forgiveness.

McCabe advises anyone interested in pursuing an acting career to know that there are many ways to participate in theatre that will help students to become better actors.  “Theatre is collaborative!  Therefore, you have to know how to work well with others.  Stay educated on the subject and its trends and purpose in society.”

Starfinder: An Updated Pathfinder for the Stars

By Juan Vasquez
Explore the galaxy with Starfinder. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Explore the galaxy with Starfinder. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Published on Aug. 17, Starfinder is the latest, long-awaited role-playing game from Paizo Publishing. It mixes pulp-style fantasy and derring-do sci-fi. Think “Star Wars” with more fantasy influences. Perhaps the game’s greatest strength---and some will argue, its greatest weakness---is its similarities to Pathfinder. Despite a few minor changes, if you know the rules for Pathfinder, then you will have a much easier time learning Starfinder. This makes the game not only an enjoyable read, but an absolute blast to play. 

On the plus side, the game’s simple premise makes it very engaging. Much like Pathfinder, the core rules are divided into two parts, the player’s guide and the game master’s guide. This is great because you do not need three core books for players, game masters, and monsters as with Dungeons and Dragons. Players create spacefaring adventurers and romp around in a science fantasy setting akin to Spelljammer and Dragonstar.

Character creation is also very similar to Pathfinder’s; each character has a race and a class. There are there are six races in total, whose unique variety presents an amazing homage to the works that inspired the game. The character classes themselves are designed to be gaming staples and fit well within the setting---the envoy, mechanic, mystic, operative, solarian (a Jedi-style character), soldier, and technomancer. 

In addition to these classes are character themes, which seem to have some similarities to characters’ backgrounds in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. These include ace pilot, bounty hunter, icon, mercenary, outlaw, priest, scholar, spacefarer, and xenoseeker, and are supposed to add several customizable features to characters without being overwhelming to the player. Besides detailing a ton of gear that players can purchase, steal, etc., the book also covers rules for vehicle and space combat, which is a welcome addition.

However, its similarity to Pathfinder’s rules leads to one of the game’s biggest problems. Much like Pathfinder, Starfinder is very crunch heavy; mathematics and quick calculations play a hefty role in the game’s mechanics. For seasoned grognards, this brings very little concern, but for the uninitiated, this can easily be a baptism by fire, especially if this is their first attempt at role playing. 

In terms of presentation, however, the art is much better than the iconic masterpiece of the Pathfinder core rules cover art. With no disrespect to Wayne Reynolds (artist of the Pathfinder core rulebook), the art presented in Starfinder is sleek and modern. Given that the book’s artwork is full-color and presented throughout the book, Starfinder gets high marks for its production value. 

Overall, I am in love with Starfinder and I look forward to running a few games. Sure, it is a bit on the “Mathfinder” side, and some of the subtle rule changes may leave you scratching your head. Despite these details, the game is a welcome addition to any gamer’s library. 

Things I Don’t Say at Work

By Mariah Dwyer 

No, sir

I don’t care if the deal ends at 5 p.m.

And it’s 4:45 p.m.

No, madam

I’m not going to repeat the offer

For the fifth time

You don’t get it so go away

No, sir

This is not an attitude

The music is loud

And I know you can’t hear me

No, madam

I don’t like working here

I know you see me dancing

But that’s the only way I can keep myself awake

No, madam

We don’t take coupons on food

Go to McDonald’s

They will make food your way

No, sir

I will not not charge you for coat check


I need to make money too

No, madam

I will not accommodate

You and your party of 25

Go have a damn cookout

No, sir

I don’t care if you’re mad

Go ahead take to the blogs

Anyone can take to the blogs

No, madam

I will walk away from here

Go in the back and talk to my coworkers

About getting drunk because of you

Day and Night Runner: Lehman Alum Hustles for Acting Career

By Jean Carlos Soto

Actor Angel Dillemuth working the control panel at the Lovinger Theater. Photo by Jean Carlos Soto.

Lehman alumnus Angel Dillemuth ’06 may not share the fate of the many gun-toting “thug” characters he plays, but the Bronx native has pursued acting with the spirit of a hustler.

“It really is a grind,” he says, sporting a black graphic T-shirt that reads “Night Runners” above an image of a claw. He has a tattoo on his right forearm---the comedy and tragedy masks, a known theater symbol he got during his MFA at the Actor’s Studio Drama school. Apparently, a gang in upstate Connecticut has also adopted the symbol.  

The working actor sacrifices financial stability to attend auditions and meet with a trusted acting coach throughout his busy week. Instead of full or part-time work, he juggles a number of per diem jobs---he works at a catering company, a hospitality company, as a substitute teacher, and puts up Christmas decorations throughout the city. He even serves as a senior house manager for Lehman’s Lovinger Theatre. Although challenging, he refers to it as “playing Tetris.”

“A lot of people think this is an overnight success kind of thing,” he says, “and it’s not. Even for the people who end up doing really well, there’s a lot of work you put into it. A lot of time.”

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists 22 films and television series featuring Dillemuth since 2007, including NBC’s “The Blacklist,” and the independent film “Dope Fiend.” In the spring of 2017, he completed his latest project, “Night Runners,” a sort horror film recently shown at the Nightmares Film Festival on Oct. 22 and nominated for best short thriller. 

Dillemuth grew up in the Soundview section of the Bronx during the crack epidemic of the 1980s, where he could walk from his Rosedale Avenue residence and find a nearby park strewn with crack vials and smokers. At home, he and his five siblings were raised by his aunt and uncle in lieu of his absent parents, who were addicts at the time. To avoid this harsh reality, he acted in the religious- and Disney-themed productions of the C.A.C. Christian Theatrical Program at the Blessed Sacrament Church. One of his earliest roles was as a dog in “The Little Mermaid.”

The “misguided clown,” as he says, was always getting into trouble until his senior year at Cardinal Spellman High School. While auditioning for the school’s production of the musical “Grease,” he realized that acting was what he had to do; he resolved to pull himself together and work harder. 

After graduating, he threw himself into auditioning, with no training, no guidance, and no luck.

“I think just being from the Bronx for me has just taught me a lot about survival and perseverance,” he says.

In the fall of 2002, he enrolled at Lehman as a theatre major and found a small crew as devoted as he was, including the current assistant director of Lehman Stages, Henry Ovalles ’06.

“The four big productions that the theatre program would put on every year were not enough for us,” Ovalles says. “So, we created a student repertory company, started doing shows in the summer, then later started doing shows in between the four shows.” They outdid their predecessors by doing “seven or eight shows” on a yearly basis and would take turns acting and directing one another. 

“We were strong,” Dillemuth says. He began doing one-act shows and one-act competitions, primarily using the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, a “great space for beginning playwrights and people that just want to put up their work.” 

Even though his focus now is on film and television, he finds theater training more beneficial to an actor than film training. “With theater training,” he says, “you’re training your whole body. With film training, you’re just learning to play angles, but you’re still not learning how to be yourself, how to react, how to listen appropriately, how to break down a scene. Because you can do a horrible job or you can do a brilliant job and the editing can make you look great or it can make you look horrible, [and] sometimes it’s not completely in your hands.”

“As far as the craft of it,” says Ovalles, who agrees, “I think any actor will tell you that it’s easier to make the transition from theater actor to film and screen actor, as opposed to the other way around.” 

Early on, Dillemuth stood out to the director of Lehman Stages, Dante Albertie, who had taught and directed the actor at Lehman for years. “He was the most serious of the serious,” Albertie says. Dillemuth, Albertie added, is “a raw nerve, and his journey is to get through life not feeling everything.”

“He was the most serious of the serious.” 

- Dante Albertie, director of Lehman Stages

“He’s an intense person,” Ovalles says. “We would be doing shows and if there was stuff going on in his personal life, he wouldn’t let it affect his performance. He was always gonna show up on time and bring his A-game, but he would be backstage punching walls in the hallway or by the bathrooms and the dressing rooms, and then he would come out to rehearsal with, you know, his knuckles all beat up.” As a senior house manager, the actor can also be hard on his ushers, “but if you know how to do your job, then he starts to respect you,” says Aleigi Dume, an office manager for Lehman Stages who has worked as an usher with Dillemuth for years.

Dume sees him as a good leader. “He knows how to teach an usher to eventually become a house manager,” she says. 

“I didn’t have that much support growing up,” says Dillemuth, so “if I can motivate and help people out now, sometimes that’s the difference.” 

Self-motivation fueled Dillemuth’s latest venture, his short film, “Night Runners.” It was his first finished project, which he wrote, produced, and co-directed. In the film, two thieves, Louie (Dillemuth) and Julio (Quincy Chad), botch a robbery and escape to a suburban house where they are haunted by the eponymous Night Runner (Morgane Ben-Ami), a vengeful, hooded woman from ancient times. It serves as a prologue to a feature-length film still unwritten. 

After writing it, Dillemuth held onto the script for a year before sending it to a producer-friend who told him it would cost more than he was willing to spend. Dillemuth decided to invest his own money, confident he could do it for cheaper, and did all the legwork to put the film on camera within five weeks.

“I felt I needed to just do something,” he says. Before he began filming, he had been searching for a house to use. He phoned Ovalles, who had just bought a house with his wife. Although reluctant at first, Ovalles finally agreed to support him. 

“He’s a go-getter,” says Ovalles, shrugging. “He’s gonna figure out a way to get what he needs to get done, done. Even if it means my wife being upset at me for a couple of months because I gave the house away.”

Dillemuth wrapped up “Night Runners” within five weeks, but went over budget and had little money left. Still wanting to push the film forward, he launched a Kickstarter project on July 9 to fund marketing and submit to film festivals throughout the country, including its first---the Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio. As of Aug. 8, backers had pledged about $2,000 more than his initial goal.  

Including his role in “Night Runners,” Dillemuth has played many “thug” roles over the years, as a drug runner in the season three premiere of “The Blacklist,” and as a gangbanger in both “Dope Fiend” and a season 4 episode of “Person of Interest.” He believes he is often typecast for “thug” roles because he is ethnically ambiguous with a somewhat deep raspy voice; he actually does not mind as long as they do not fall into a certain stereotype, the loud, “Oh, I’m a thug!” type, as he puts it.  

He says doing “Night Runners” was an opportunity to combine his acting with his love of horror movies, and portray a “thug” character with a backstory.  “If it’s very much a tough character who has depth and there’s some sort of emotional involvement,” he says, “that’s something I can get into very easily. That’s something where I can mix my experiences with what’s written on the page.” 

Faith Directs Her Way onto Lehman Stage

By Leonel Henriquez

Faith D’Erasmo, currently directing her 16th show. Photo courtesy of Faith D’Erasmo. 

Macaulay Honors College junior, Faith D’Erasmo, is wasting no time growing into her craft, and pushing its boundaries while she’s at it. The 20-year-old theatre major made her directorial debut July 21-23 at Lehman’s Studio Theatre with a production of the musical “Spring Awakening” by Steven Sater, and said the opportunity came in the nick of time. 

“My friends and I really wanted to perform our favorite show, ‘Spring Awakening,’ which is quite risqué,” she explained.  So, D’Erasmo was thrilled at the opportunity to direct a show at Lehman.  “Since last year I began searching for a new venue to perform our summer show. We had been performing at a Catholic grammar school for years and the choice and content of our shows was very much hindered by the kids, priests, and other community members attending. We really wanted to perform more intense theatre. Last summer, we did not find a venue and had to do a different show.”

The search for a new venue brought her to Henry Ovalles, assistant director of Lehman Stages. “She told me she wanted to move on to a bigger location with the freedom of content, one of the things we want to do at Lehman Stages is foster creativity and new work, as long as there is no nudity.” Ovalles also said he was very impressed by how organized D’Erasmo and her staff were. “Usually people her age are still finding their way. I find her very mature…she and her staff had their stuff together, they had experience.” 

D’Erasmo’s passion for theatre began in 2013, with her first performance, in an ensemble of “Legally Blonde,” when she was just 15. “Right after I did my first show, I knew that theatre was what I wanted to do,” she said. “I actually gave up sports because theatre caused me to lose interest in those other things.” 

Though D’Erasmo has performed in eight shows, six of which she directed herself, she does not consider herself a natural performer. “I would love to [be a performer] but I know I’m not cut out for it. I typically struggle with anxiety,” she said. She prefers the comfort zone of the organized chaos backstage, and the director’s chair.  “I’m usually busy running around trying to make sure things are in place and everyone is doing what they’re supposed to,” she said with a grin. 

While she has her heart set on directing, D’Erasmo has also had success as a playwright. This past winter her play “Across the Yard” was directed by Stephanie Stowe at Lehman’s Studio Thearer for the Student’s Playwright Festival. Recently, she finished co-authoring her first musical with her boyfriend. D’Erasmo said she is very happy with her recent achievements. “I got a wonderful opportunity of putting on our dream at Lehman,” she said. 

Fight for Our Sake: A Letter to My Middle School Self

By Melanie I. Hernandez


Dear Melanie,

Photo courtesy of Melanie Hernandez.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Hernandez.

Your innocence will be completely lost by the time you enter high school. You cannot change this, so just let it happen. Your surroundings will alter, but you will not learn from them. Out of fear, you will let these surroundings manipulate you into conforming. This will haunt you into your early twenties, while you continue to suffer and live with regret. This letter, if you take it into consideration while you are now searching for answers, will help you learn from your current circumstances so that you can understand and accept who you are. By the time you are 26, you could already have your life together, instead of still struggling to correct the mistakes of the past. Listen for our sake!

Yes, you are different. People, especially your peers, do not understand different, and not only do they not understand it, they are afraid of it. When an animal, as we are, is approached by any danger, which they think you are, their natural fight-or-flight instinct comes into play. You have already experienced this for yourself, just this week, when the boy sitting next to you made a racist remark and you decided on “flight” by cowering in silence with your head down. The others, like that boy, are more attuned to the “fight” instinct. This is because of the culture they were brought up in. Although you have lived in the same neighborhood as them for most of your life, as you’ve come to realize, you were sheltered. You didn’t even attend the same schools. While they were fist-fighting in Kindergarten, you were sneaking Barbie dolls in your bookbag so that you could play with them after school at your babysitter’s house. You know this, but you do not use it to your advantage. Just because you do not know how to trigger your “fight” reflex doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that you won’t be eventually forced to use it.

Fighting is painful in all circumstances, win or lose. It hurts physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but you have already learned that running away can be just as “detrimental.” (Look up this word, it will be useful for you in this time!) You have come into this school full of children your age who look at you as something they want and fear. You know that you are neither of those things yourself, but they cast you out immediately. You know who you are. Ethnically, you are three-quarters Puerto Rican, one-quarter Italian. Socially, you are shy, introverted, but really cool once people get to know you. Economically, you are much poorer than your peers, even though they treat you as the opposite based on your skin tone. Emotionally, you want so badly to be accepted and to make friends. Academically, you are highly intelligent, but you are aware that this is also something your peers dislike. All of these things make up who you are. Listen to me now: these attributes are perfectly you, so live up to them fully and make no apologies.

Ask your uncles and father to show you how to fight. You will try to run away as much as you can, but a fight will ultimately come knocking at your door---literally. Fight, because that’s what people do. Fight, because that is what you must do to remain true to yourself. The next time someone makes a “white girl” remark, open your mouth and tell them, “I am Puerto Rican!” The next time those girls try to bully you, stand up to them no matter the consequences. When the friendly Jamaican girls befriend you, cherish every moment and don’t let them go because they are your real friends. When the girls who live in your building, who also go to the same school as you, try to convert you into their “pet,” don’t let them.

I know you think the girls in your building are your friends, but friends don’t hurt you. Friends don’t bully you. Friends don’t steal your stuff. Friends don’t steal your crushes. Friends don’t try to force you into sex with older men. Friends don’t force you to skip school. Friends don’t force you to do drugs. Friends don’t use racial commentary to hurt you. Friends don’t bring you down. Friends raise you up.

Your friends are Simone, Tamika, Angelica, Jailyn, Tattiana, George, Joseph, Calixto, Matthew, and Lizette. That is a substantial number of peers who love and support you. Keep these people close and you will continue to rise above the hate around you, and excel as that person you made a list to become. Don’t let this list be full of lost goals. Stick to the plan. There will still be many roadblocks on the way. Just take each one as a lesson you need to keep moving forward.

Sincerely you,

Melanie H.

What I Would Tell My Younger Self

By Zayna Palmer



Photo courtesy of Zayna Palmer.

You are a smart girl, born and raised in the Bronx. It is fine that you keep many things to yourself and are an introvert, because it shows that you’re comfortable with your own company.

You are very beautiful, and you shouldn’t care about how others judge you based on the way you look. Let go of the negative comments that people have said about you throughout high school because they are irrelevant. You have the power to do many things because you are very talented and creative. You drew amazing things in your art notebook, and you create unique quotes which can inspire others. Walk with your head high and your shoulders back because confidence is everything. The world would love to see your lovely smile more often and not a sad face due to overthinking things that aren’t true, such as assuming you won’t pass that big exam or you will stutter when presenting a project. Just relax and breathe, you got this.

Things take time. Stop rushing and chasing people you don’t need because you waste your time that way, especially with the people who never cared about you to begin with. Chasing people has been one of your biggest regrets because you never got to realize who you truly are as a person and you would put all of your happiness on someone else, which led to you trapping yourself in your room and crying all night.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. God created you to be you, not her. Love yourself and keep your family first, because they’ve never let you down, not once. You often put friends before family, which resulted in guilt.

You’ve picked yourself back up and realized that family is all that you have and you wouldn’t trade it for anything.

In order to be great, you have to overcome the most difficult challenges, such as doing things you’ve never done. I’m proud of you because you’ve learned to go out there and do things on your own without depending on anyone else, such as going to the Metropolitan Museum for a school project. It’s great to do things on your own because it shows that you are independent. Speak up and say how you feel, otherwise no one else will know. Your voice always counts so don’t hide it, let someone know what’s bothering you and why you stayed in the house all day and didn’t want to come out. Dance to the rhythm of your own drum and stay in your lane, just like your mom always told

you. Forgive and move on, because holding grudges is the same thing as holding anger. You have a whole life ahead of you, so do what makes you happy whether it be dancing, singing in the shower, or even playing dress up. Your most meaningful lesson was to grow and become the mature adult that you are now. Look at you, in college and aiming for the top. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Most importantly, believe that you serve an extraordinary God who is greater than all things.


Zayna Palmer

A Letter to a Naïve Boy

By Jarol Rivera-Diaz 


Dear Jarol,

Photo courtesy of Jarol Rivera-Diaz.

Hola! Rather, Hello. I am me, yourself. A new and older you, to be exact. You might not be able to read this letter just yet. You are still seventeen, naïve, and monolingual. Do not worry, you will learn how to read and write in English in six months. Your thick accent might get in the way sometimes; do not let the smirks and laughs discourage you. In the end, you will still manage to lead discussions in class. Yes, you will become a college student, but no, you will not choose pre-med as mom wanted.

Your career choice, you ask? Anthropology. Why? Because you wanted answers. To what? A simple conundrum. You will discover that you can board a plane and change your race.

On August 25, 2012, you will fly in a plane for the first time. Do not be anxious. There will be lots of turbulence. The food will be nonexistent, and your brother will rest his head on your shoulder. Do not push him away. You will drift apart from each other eventually. Your schedules won’t match and eventually you will see each other only at night.

You will miss your friends immensely. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to say your goodbyes. Your high school graduation date will be postponed a whole week, the same day you are moving to America. Do not promise them you will meet them again. You will not. Forget them, move on with your life. They will ignore your texts. When K. and A. give you the cold shoulder and make fun of your accent, do not mind them. They’ll leave your church community by the end of the year .The biggest lesson you will learn in your twenties is that relationships are a two-way street.

While filling out your school application, do not choose “Latino” as your racial/ethnic background. Through phone calls and official papers your Spanish accent and Spanish- sounding, hyphenated last name might reveal you as Latino; your looks won’t match the preconceived image of a young Latino man in the U.S. The following winter, while you work as a cashier at McDonald’s, do not help translate for Spanish speakers. They will thank you by raising their eyebrows and telling you, “you don’t look Latino; how can you speak Spanish?” Tell them you used Rosetta Stone for beginners. They won’t believe if you tell them you are a native speaker, even though you are far more literate and fluent.

Speaking of disbelief, when your classmates at choir demand you to speak Spanish to prove your Latinness, don’t do it. You have nothing to prove. Brazilians and Haitians are both Latinos and neither speak Spanish as a first language. Neither do your Hispanic classmates.  Don’t get tired of introducing yourself as an Afro-Latino; Black and Hispanic are not mutually exclusive. People’s ignorance will amaze you. At first you will think it is not your job to educate them. It kind of is. Don’t overreact when the white girl in your writing intensive class, in your sophomore year, asks you “What kind of drink is ‘Afro-Latino?’”  She has honestly never heard that word before. Neither have your fellow Black Latino friends. When your friend Fridda gets mad because you called her Black, do not apologize. She is blacker than you, for God’s sake. She will tell you she is a mulatto, mixed person like the rest of your countrymen. Her swarthy looks, broad nose, and kinky hair are the result of her French and African ancestry, she’ll say. Do not try to convince other Dominicans they are Black. You will lose friends if you do, Fridda included. Dominicans still believe in a utopian racial democracy where the small white oligarchy controls everything.

Don’t be jealous of your brother because of his lighter skin and bright hazel eyes. Caucasian blood is not a magical tonic that grants beauty. Do not despise your hair. When Grandma tells you to get a buzz cut to look presentable, do not listen. You got your coiled, kinky hair from her.  Do no try to accommodate others, not even your family. Hug mom a lot more; she will present bipolar tendencies as time goes by. She did not prefer your brother over you, by the way. He just needed more attention and help with school work than you did. More importantly, love yourself more. There is nothing wrong with your body. I lied. There is. You will develop a binge eating disorder by 21. You still have it. Do worry about your mental health. Lastly, do not worry about your looks; melanin is just a natural protection against sun, and does not define your character.


You (me)


A Letter to My Younger Self

By Margarete Rodriguez 

13- or 14-year-old Margarete at Build-A-Bear Workshop for her sister’s birthday and present day Margarete working at the Lehman Counseling Center. Photos courtesy of Margarete Rodriguez.

Dear young Margarete,

You will become the person you never thought you could be: confident, strong-willed, outgoing, magnificent, and fearless. You will actually be happy, to the point where you randomly smile to yourself in gratitude.

You will get tattoos even though you always swore to yourself that your body would be an empty canvas. You won’t believe this, but there will come a day when you can look yourself in the mirror and say, “you’re beautiful.” Fair warning---things will get ugly before this happens and you won’t really learn to say nice things about yourself, with full confidence, until after high school.

A seemingly nice boy with a mohawk will try to mold you into someone you’re not: quiet, reserved and apologetic, but you won’t let that happen. You truly have a mind of your own and only you know what you want out of your life. I would tell you to avoid him entirely, but he actually helped you learn a lot about yourself and the things you are willing to accept and REJECT from people and relationships. So, if you want to turn out to be the dope individual you read about in that first paragraph, you’re going to have to bite the bullet.

The good news is, your resilience is unparalleled and your heart, and mind, will guide you to all the right places. So, know when to walk away from things that aren’t meant for you, even when they tug at you to stay. There’s a power in doing just that. Your gut will tell you when it’s time; you only need the courage to follow it.

From time to time you will feel isolated and alone, partly because you put yourself there. Even I do that sometimes, but we know damned well that is far from the case. Feel whatever you have to feel, just don’t keep yourself in that bubble for too long. If you turn around you’ll see a sea of strong women, and a few reliable guys too. Don’t take them for granted. We both know how hard it is to make friends.

Keep your chin up, kiddo. You will be where you are meant to be.

A “Day Without Immigrants” Strike Creates Solidarity---Within Limits

By Juan B. García

Exterior of Mole Poblano, open for business, located at 290 New Main St., Yonkers, New York. Photos by Juan B. Garcia.

The Trump administration’s hard-line stances on a range of policies have precipitated ongoing protests across the U.S., with immigration law one of the most hotly contested issues. These efforts to mobilize public coalitions are creating new popular alliances. While these attempts remain a work in progress, they seek to build broader solidarity among and between diverse groups, as demonstrated by the nationwide strike, a “Day Without Immigrants,” that took place on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. To protest Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the campaign asked foreign-born people, regardless of legal status, not to work or shop to demonstrate the importance of their labor and consumer spending on the U.S. economy. The idea was to make merchants feel the absence of immigrant workers. In 2014, Pew Research Center estimated that there were 43.6 million foreign-born people in the U.S. Out of those 43.6 million, 11.1 million were unauthorized immigrants. The campaign spread mostly on Facebook and via WhatsApp, and many workers and businesses participated. “I [closed my restaurant] to express my solidarity with the [immigrant] community, to support the cause and to show that undocumented immigrants are [an important] part of the economy,” said César García, 38, owner of Mole Poblano, a Mexican restaurant located in Yonkers. García said, on the day of the strike, most of the restaurants in Yonkers closed. His employees didn’t go to work and were pleased that García supported the strike.

However, the somewhat haphazard way he became involved in the action demonstrates the vicissitudes of decentralized protest organized on social media. A few days before joining the strike, César García read a post on Facebook announcing it. There is a lot of fake news on the internet and he wanted to make sure that the strike was real. He started to investigate by calling Qué Buena 92.7 FM, a radio station that broadcasts a Spanish language regional Mexican format--- owned by Univision’s radio division--- where he talked to DJ José Luis Arcos.

Then García called The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at CUNY, located on the second floor of Carman Hall at Lehman. The institute serves as a source for the Mexican community in New York promoting college enrollment, research and advocacy.

Yohan García, Anchoring Achievement Coordinator at The Jaime Lucero, answered and told César García that the strike was real but that there was no organization behind it.

The day of the national strike, Mole Poblano closed in solidarity with the immigrant community.

Yohan García and his colleagues at The Jaime Lucero talked about the campaign and its lack of centralization. The day of the strike Yohan García did his daily Thursday routine, taking his niece to school and then going to school himself, to Fordham University where he is a graduate student. He happened to be off from work.

“My niece asked to be taken to school,” said Yohan García. He added that he didn’t feel he was really a part of the strike.“I’m a grad student at Fordham and since I pay my tuition out of pocket, I don’t give myself the option of missing classes. Each day of class cost me more than $400 dollars,” García said. “I’m glad that a lot of community members participated, yet, I believe a more organized event [was] needed to make a real impact,” said Yohan García. His colleague, Interim Director of the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute José Higuera López, mentioned that although the nationwide strike a “Day Without Immigrants” was eventful and it had an impact on [the Bronx] community, it would have been much more impactful if it had a clear organizing body, leadership roles, and guidelines.

“I believe a more organized event [was] needed to make a real impact.”

- Yohan Garcia, Anchoring Achievement Coordinator at The Jaime Lucero

According to a 2017 article in The New York Times about the strike “owners of some smaller businesses said that they supported the idea but that the campaign was too hastily organized to justify closing.” Several activists said that “as far as they knew there was no national organization behind [the campaign].” A problem a protest like this presented was that it worked for middle and upper class people that could afford to take a day off from work without getting fired. NBC News reported that “dozens of protesters across the country were fired from their jobs after skipping work to take part in last week’s ‘Day Without Immigrants’ demonstration.” “I think that the employers who fired immigrants that did not go to work were not supporting the movement,” said Neil Omacharan, 23, a junior at Lehman. “I think it was unfair and unjust to fire them,” he continued. He also said that the day of the strike immigrants just wanted to let everyone know the importance they have in this country.

Higuera López remarked that the Women’s March provided clear leadership and a message that rallied national support. “Other marches like the ones organized by Make the Road New York, in which I and other colleagues have also participated on our own personal time and weekends,” said Higuera López, “established clear guidelines and time frames that allowed all people participating to understand the rules of engagement.”

Compared to the “Day Without Immigrants” strike, upcoming marches and pacific rallies on immigrants such as La Marcha de Mayo, May Day and No Ban/No Wall Vigil are centralized and organized and provide specific hours and places of gathering.

The next day after the strike, César García said that his customers reacted positively to his solidarity.

“They were happy that we were supporting the cause,” he said.