I was born in the Bronx in 1989. My mother, An undocumented Dominican immigrant, came to the US and settled in the Bronx before moving to Boston which I consider my hometown. My family still lives in the same building I was born in off University Avenue, and although I don't visit as often as I would like, my heart is tethered to the Bronx and its story of overcoming, one so similar to mine.
The first time I read about the Bronx burning and the birth of Hip Hop was through Jeff Chang’s "Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation.” This book changed my entire life. It got me to thinking critically about the conditions of my neighborhood, how they were influenced by systemic violence and the beauty that emerges when people let their imaginations run wild as a response to oppression. Hip Hop was a product of the collective imagination.