What is Your Illuminated Identity?
HI! My name is Raldenys Tolentino, and I am a rising senior at Bronx Early College Academy in the South Bronx. I am a NYC youth-fellow in the Illuminated Cities Project, which looks at heroism, segregation and legacy in different communities all throughout the city of New York. In July, I will be a youth-fellow for the Multi-City Program, where we will be applying everything we learned and observed from the NYC program and comparing it to other segregated cities in the nation. The way in which us fellows collect and reflect on everything we are learning is through citizen journalism. Citizen Journalism is unorthodox journalism. This just means that the individuals reporting and investigating aren’t trained professionals, and that is what we are. The Illuminated Cities Project is awesome; it has really moved me and exposed me to a lot of things I didn’t know before. This project is not only illuminating cities, but also individuals. Through the investigative work that I have done so far, my mind has really been expanded and I make connections with my past experiences and the new ones, which I am obtaining from ICP. I have learned so much, and I can tell that I will learn a lot more and through this, grow more as an individual because my mind is constantly being challenged which will eventually make the light within me brighter.
How do you want to be remembered as a part of America’s fabric?
Like Langston Hughes was remembered for being a voice for African Americans and making a change through literature, I want to be remembered as a leader and as someone who also made a change for the different communities I belong to. I want it to let it be known that if there is something you want to do, just go for it regardless of what anyone else has to say. Hughes mentioned people being “ashamed” of him in his poem. He is referring to the people that doubted him and how they will be ashamed because he did the right thing when he is finally sitting at the table. I agree with this poem because we should stand up for a cause when we really believe in it. It doesn’t matter what other people think, because later they will realize that you were right to stand up for what you believed in. I stand by this for the reason that everyone has a voice and that voice should be heard because we are all part of the American community.
I want people to remember me as an accomplished Latina who raised awareness for issues that are wrong in America as well as issues all around the globe. I want to be remembered as the woman who worked towards eliminating these issues with the help of community, media, and the arts. There are so many things that are wrong in society and people should be more aware of issues so that change can happen and we can all live in a world that is one big community where we are all seen as equal and pain free. When people think of dedication, success and happiness, I want people to think of me. I want to inspire people and be someone’s shero, just like I have heroes and sheroes of my own.