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I am a surviving butterfly
New York City is home to over three million people who were born outside of the United States. Politicians and policy makers often refer to these individuals as "illegals," "law breakers," "aliens," and "undocumenteds" - labels that stripe them of their individuality and humanity.
The Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement in Long Island City, New York, offers free English language classes to those for whom English is a second language. While an artist-in-residence at the Riis Center, I worked with Riis staff to teach English language learners how to use photography to advocate for change.
With a simple black backdrop and some lights, I set up a photographic portrait studio in a corner of the Riis Center's gymnasium. We offered free portraits to all students attending the English language classes, asking those who participated to write down how they describe themselves.
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