Visual Encyclopedia

Steven Sapp

Steven Sapp (born and raised in the South Bronx, New York) co-founded The POINT Community Development Corporation (Hunts Point) in 1993 and Universes (poetic theatre ensemble) in 1995, both in collaboration with Mildred Ruiz-Sapp.

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My voice Tick Tock. Wake up. Get dressed. Go to school. Participate. Go home. Shower. Cook, eat and wash the dishes. Do homework. Go to bed and repeat the cycle all over again. This was my life in the Dominican Republic (D.R.). I went to the best school in D.R. It was the top Catholic private school in the country. I took the responsibility of being the first daughter in my family. I grew into a leader and knew that my voice mattered. I defended and supported my peers in D.R. At the age of 13, my classmates even chose me to be the dean of the 8th something in me to be the leader of the class, but I was not even conscious of what I was doing, grade class. They saw One day before I was able to start my daily routine, my mom told me that we were moving to the USA. My family was so happy but they never asked me how I felt about moving to a new country, a place where I didn’t know anyone, and where I had to learn a new language. This was the first time I felt I couldn’t speak my opinions and I could not use my voice. Tick tock. Wake up in new country. Walk streets I don’t know. Go to a new school where I am a nobody. Unable to participate because I don’t understand the new language. Struggle to do my homework that I can barely read. Stay up late every night determined to conquer it and Over the last 3 years in America, my life has completely changed. I have used my newfound English voice to work with local organizations such as A.C.T.I.O.N (Activists Coming Together to Inform Our Neighborhood) to help educate our community about social justice issues. One of the main problems in the South Bronx, my community, is people normalizing inequality. Whereas highways are only on the outskirts of Manhattan they run right through my neighborhood. The Sheridan Expressway, a mostly unnecessary route, has done nothing but add more crime, danger, and given us one of the worse asthma rates in the country. People accept this injustice, not because they want to, but because they are not given the resources allowing them to become aware of the social injustices that are occurring around them. This is why I am so committed to being a community activist and giving us a voice. I could not have imagined that I would find the voice I lost as a girl in D.R. and become a leader so passionate about social justice. Who would have thought that the girl who did not know English three years ago would now speak for everyone.

Contributed by Rossemary Gomez

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