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Contra Cuentos: Bringing Light to The Stories of Undocumented Artists and Immigrants



Ever since the Trump administration formally announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, there has been a wave of national protests, with many voices speaking up in support of undocumented immigrants. Currently, 800,000 DREAMers face risk of deportation if lawmakers fail to take action in December.


However, in the midst of these countless headlines, mainstream media have left out many voices, hyper-politicizing the narratives of DREAMers and failing to recognize their personal journeys as individuals, and more importantly–as humans.


Tomorrow, NYU Dream Team will be hosting, “Contra Cuentos: Tearing Down Walls, Building Bridges” at 7 p.m. in Palladium’s multi-purpose room on the third floor. The evening will center on a colorful lineup of performances from six incredible New-York based artists in the undocumented and immigrant community who will share their powerful contra cuentos, or counter-narratives, of resistance, resilience and beauty.



As Co-Directors of Events for NYU Dream Team, Ginnila Pérez and Rebecca Azuga worked together to organize the event, continuing the annual tradition that began in 2012. However, unlike previous years when Dream Team primarily collaborated with La Herencia Latina at NYU (Latin Heritage Month), they reached out to 16 different student organizations, including NYU Asian Pacific American Coalition, NYU Muslim Students Association, Black and Brown Coalition at NYU and more.  


“We’re stronger together,” said Pérez. “We wanted to work with more organizations because undocumented people aren’t just from Latiné backgrounds. A lot of the times, we become hyper-politicized and separated because our differences. At the end of the day, a lot of these issues might be different, but they’re not totally separate. We have to realize those connections, show up for one another and support each other.”


‘We want it to be a night of healing’

About a month ago, a message was scribbled in the Bobst Bathroom that read, “Hasta Luegos Dreamers” or “See you later Dreamers”. The same incident took place again a couple of weeks ago. However, NYU Dream Team remained firm in their vision, remembering that the purpose of the event is to recognize and find joy in local artists for their humanity.


“We’ve been planning this event for awhile,” said Azuga. “We didn’t just come up with it in thin air because of an incident nor is it why we are having this event. People are always going to be targeting these communities. The whole purpose is not to be political, but simply to celebrate these people, bringing light to these artists and appreciating them for who they are.”


Pérez said that she hopes that attendees will find a moment for respite and self-care.


“We want it to be a night of healing,” said Pérez. “It’s hard to be an advocate when you yourself are stressed, and don’t have the proper self-care to support others around you.”


Art as a form of resistance

The performances will range from spoken word to dance, poetry, short films and modern art. The night will not only be filled with creative artistry and self-expression, but will also feature diverse dishes such as Pad Thai, assortments of samosas, various Mexican platters and more. The event is free, and attendees have the option to contribute to NYU Dream Team’s donation project for the New Sanctuary Coalition. (Note: Donations can only be made in cash).


Azuga said that while people may associate resistance with anger, art can be a liberating way to display one’s resistance.


“I think people have this mental image of protests when they think of resistance,” Azuga said. “And while that can certainly be one form of resistance, there are many other ways. The artists who are performing tomorrow are resisting by expressing themselves even though they live under this constant fear of what might happen to them in the next day, and when people are telling them that they don’t belong here. They’re choosing to be themselves and they do it proudly. We admire that.”



Recognizing the complexity of the issue, Pérez said that each performance will be personal to the artist and uniquely meaningful.


“It’s not that these performers are only conveying that they are undocumented,” said Pérez. “They have multiple identities that they want to share with us through their art. It’s complex but incredibly beautiful. Part of the resistance is being able to be joyful in your own humanity. Resistance isn’t always being angry or fighting. It can be continuing on with your life and celebrating each other. You don’t want to lose sight of that.”



Doors will open at 7 p.m. tomorrow and performances will go on until 10 p.m. For those who cannot attend, NYU Dream Team will be livestreaming the event on their Facebook page and will post updates in the event.  


Pérez and Azuga both said that those attending should bring love and a willingness to appreciate different perspectives tomorrow.


“This event is important to show that there are so many people who are affected by this issue in different ways,” said Azuga. “These narratives don’t belong to the media, and they don’t belong to the politicians. They belong to the people, and they should have a right to share their narratives in a way they think is appropriate and true to what they experience on a daily basis.”


Questions on the event?

Email the organizers at nyudreamteam17@gmail.com


Grace is currently a senior at New York University majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. Although born in California and raised in Dallas, Texas, Grace considers Seoul, South Korea to be her home sweet home. At school, Grace serves as the Editor-In-Chief at Her Campus NYU, President at Freedom for North Korea (an issue very personal to her), and Engagement Director of the Coalition of Minority Journalists. She is currently interning at Turner's Strategic Communications team while serving as a PA at CNN. In her free time, Grace loves to sing jazz, run outside, read the news, go on photography excursions, and get to know people around her-- hence, her passion for conducting Her Campus profiles. She can be reached at: gracemoon@hercampus.com
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