Entre Between

Steven Dunn

Lima, Peru: December 28, 1964

She is 15, says goodbye and kisses her mother, and gets on a plane.

[in the air] thinking dreaming feeling possibilities, promises. The inverse of family is promise. Family is also a promise. Inverse is equal. But she is still leaving something a lot behind.

New York, New York: December 31, 1964

[on the ground] suspicious of possibility, suspicious of promise.

January 1, 1965

Happy New Year! Welcome to America. But I just came from America, está al sur de aquí, but still America, todavía América. Sudamerica. South America.

January 2, 1965

Happy Birthday! She is 16, and says hello to snow for the first time. Everything should be white like in books and television programs. But New York streets hold piles of gray slush embedded with soggy paper bags and protruding cigarette butts like incense.

February 21, 1965

Malcom X is assassinated in Manhattan, NY.

February 22, 1965

She teaches herself to use the subway to get to school. Where the teachers do not will not speak Spanish, or Italian, or any language that she can latch on to. Wanting just a few solo unas pocas words familiar to her tongues and ears and hearts.

A group of girls (from Cuba and Puerto Rico) who have been splitting their tongues between English and Spanish gather around her, bridging and webbing the language gaps. Cut to: 2018: They are still friends. And their languages have held them and their families.

March 25, 1965:

Martin Luther King Jr and 25,000 civil rights activists successfully end the four-day march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama.

March 30, 1965:

Daniel Moynihan, a white man, and future New York Senator, released a report backed by President Lyndon Johnson, called The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Moynihan argued that the rise in black single-mother families was not caused by a lack of jobs, but by a destructive vein in ghetto culture, which could be traced to slavery time.

March 31, 1965: Present, Past, and Future

She looks at her black hands, looks at her black family, looks at the blackness between worlds that is persistent and thriving—black bodies soaking up languages and geographies—black and brown bodies holding communities and sending each other to far away promises. “Once you get settled, we will come also.” And come they do, even when they can barely afford it, even through years of crying and longing for something yet undefinable called home. Persisting, despite language barriers. Despite community leaders being murdered. Despite a white man’s “expertise” on ghetto Black culture. Where is this destructive vein? We have found the constructive vein. Elvia is her name. And she sees the constructive vein in her brothers and sisters, in her four grandchildren, in her patients at the hospital, in her web of Cuban and Puerto Rican friends. Elvia, who, through decades of care and taking chances, has come to define the undefinable thing called home: “Home is being with my family.”

September 19, 2009, New Jersey News.com

Newark Public Library Celebrates Peruvian Immigrants in New Exhibit

A new exhibit at Newark's main public library celebrates the contributions of Peruvian immigrants as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs nationwide from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. It features objects from Peru, a history of the country that is home to 11 World Heritage Sites, and objects documenting Peruvian migration to New Jersey.

Peruvian immigrants were first drawn to New Jersey in the 1950s by plentiful factory work and word-of-mouth.

Nearly 50 years since the first migration wave, they've built a vibrant community that now includes more than 200,000 people and is home to the largest group of Peruvians living outside the South American nation.

Paterson, New Jersey is a household name in Peru, and community leaders and consular officials estimate that nearly half of the small businesses in the city's downtown are Peruvian-owned.

"I hope people take away, first of all, the fact of the contributions of Peruvian-Americans, that we do exist and we're here to stay," Jara said. "And I hope many people learn about the cultural values and the ancient contributions that the Peruvian culture has made to the world."