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Latinx students create poetry book highlighting struggles of gentrification

By Marissa Armas

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    DENVER (KCNC) — In classroom 165A at North High School in Denver, a group of Latinx students are having conversations that are sometimes difficult to have.

“Especially being Brown you have more doubt being put in you growing up,” said Bernadette Moreno, a sophomore at the school.

The students are sharing their stories of pain and beauty, through a poetry book they recently created called “Our Sacred Community.” The book highlights what it was like for Latinx students growing up in the Northside as it was gentrifying.

“The people around me are always frowned upon and looked at in a negative manner,” said Carlos, a senior in the class. “They like to take our culture but they hate the people that it’s tied to.”

The students created the book in a “Latinos in Action” class, spearheaded by teacher Tim Hernández, who also grew up in Denver’s Northside. Hernández said they got the inspiration from Colorado Poet Laureate Writer Bobby LeFebre, then they began walking the neighborhood, taking photos, and then putting those photos into words.

“A lot of the time, people think they’re fixing this place that we live in,” another senior said.

Along with that pain, many of their poems describe the resilience and strength that comes from within the North Denver neighborhood.

“Still our people that make our community, try to make it the best that it can be,” one student added.

Students like Martin Castañon told CBS4, he didn’t think this project would have as much of an impact on him as it did.

“It tries to make people understand what we feel when we walk down our own neighborhood,” said Castañon. “They look at me like I don’t belong, and in a neighborhood that I originated in, like you guys invaded our space.”

Hernández said this is about creating a space for students to authentically express themselves.

“Our students are saying through this book that, we are pain, we are experiencing pain, we’d like to be community, we’d like to be unity, we’d like to be solidarity, we’d like to be empathy , and I think that really, it’s an option of what role people would like to have in that,” Hernández said. “If they would like to build a community, or invest in the young people, the young Latinx, BIPOC people that are in our community, or not.”

Through their words and photos these students are hoping to bring change for future generations, not just North Denver, but beyond.

“What I want people to take away is not to judge on us,” Moreno said. “All we’re doing is trying to build up a staircase in your society for us just to walk on, so other people don’t have to crawl and suffer.”

The students are offering their book online for free for the community, but they are accepting donations. All the funds raised will go towards a Latinx Leadership Conference that they’re planning in Summer 2022. To purchase a copy of the book, visit:

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