Peralta Hacienda park groups

Photo by Scott Tsuchitani

Undocumented heart

“Undocumented Heart” is a group of fifteen day laborers from Mexico and Central America who have joined together to tell their stories through exhibits, performances and other media. Forming the group is an act of bravery: Most day laborers find relative safety in silence, for they can be deported without notice. Although their labor fuels the U.S. economy, day laborers lack basic legal rights. Many receive illegally low wages, or have their wages stolen, as well as experiencing other humiliations caused by public ignorance or even fear, although many are highly skilled with years of experience. They hope this group brings not only their personal experiences before the public, but also the history of colonialism and oppression that has pushed them across continents, and that their performances will shine a light on the cherished cultures of their homelands.

Due to U.S. immigration law, undocumented day laborers endure separation from their families in their homelands. Many have not seen their adult offspring since they were children, have never met their grandchildren, or have risked their lives to visit relatives on their deathbeds.

They are hired only for an hour, a day or a week at a time, and usually paid in cash, without Social Security, health insurance or job security.  They have little chance of economic advancement or education because they are undocumented, and face discrimination on the basis of race, nationality and language. Day laborers are among the most vulnerable in Oakland, Calif., to homelessness, poor nutrition, and health problems because of their economic insecurity.

Youth Making History

Youth Making History, based at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in Oakland’s Fruitvale District, brings together youth from cultures from every corner of mother earth to tell their stories. Youth engage directly with the public offering guided tours in the site’s award-winning museum, bringing their own unique understanding to the site’s award-winning exhibits, and creating their own exhibits. They explore culture and history and practice storytelling as docents and through performance. They advocate for youth, presenting their perspectives at City Council. They build their skills in creative expression through poetry, visual art, and craft. All the youth have a story to tell, many with interconnecting and overlapping themes and patterns. In hearing the stories of others, youth recognize that people have more in common than differences.

Peralta Hacienda is very proud of these youth for finding meaning, healing, and the courage to share their expressions, so that others may find connection, validation, and transcendence through their performance.

Participants attend numerous high schools across Oakland, such as American Indian High School, Skyline High School, Fremont High School, Sojourner Truth, Bridges, Oakland Tech, Piedmont, Oakland Charter High, Madison Park and San Lorenzo High School. Youth Making History is led by Inshirah Berakah, a Bay Area educator, activist, and artist specializing in youth leadership projects.
Peralta Hacienda Historical Park 6-acre park and historic house interprets the untold stories of the Fruitvale community, giving voice to the cultures that have created — and are still transforming — California. Peralta Hacienda  will facilitate collaboration between Dohee Lee and the above groups.