Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra, 15
Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra was born in North Carolina and currently lives and attends high school in Washington, DC. Ibarra is a United States citizen born to a family of many undocumented immigrants, including her mother, who moved them back to Maracay, Venezuela, when Ramon-Ibarra was a child to avoid deportation. After living in Maracay, Ramon-Ibarra’s health deteriorated drastically due to asthma and she was sent back to the U.S. to live with relatives. In 2016, Ramon-Ibarra’s mother tried to cross the border back into the U.S. to see her children. When she was caught, she sought asylum and was detained for six months. After Donald Trump won the presidency, Ramon-Ibarra’s mother was informed by her lawyer that she could be deported at any time, and so she gave permanent custody of Ramon-Ibarra to her relatives.
Ramon-Ibarra says she is a weird poet; in the third grade, she would collage her own stories and poems together to entertain herself. She loves how the power of slam poetry helps her express herself and encourages her to recognize her own feelings of anger, disappointment, and happiness. Ramon-Ibarra says that being a first-generation American has been challenging, but it has also taught her the extraordinary skill of being bilingual, which she greatly values.
Ramon-Ibarra has recently been educating herself on the topic of gun control. She is an active participant in Spanish debates at her bilingual school, discusses the subject in her student government, and has protested at the White House. She organized a group to join the April 20th walkout for “March For Our Lives” because the lack of firearm restrictions in big cities, like Washington DC, makes her want to change the mindset that many young people are growing up with: that guns can be used like toys. Ramon-Ibarra is an outspoken feminist, no matter what any person says to her. When faced with tense debate with the unsympathetic, Ramon-Ibarra says that instead of trying to defend her beliefs, she asks her peers to explain the reasoning behind their argument to understand the opposition. Though she recognizes that hatred is rampant in our country, peace and love is her personal goal for this world.
Ramon-Ibarra hopes to attend college in the future. She participates in PEARLS (Promoting Education, the Arts, our Roots, Leadership and Service), a program at George Washington University sponsored by Senoritas Latinas Unidas, the Shakespeare Theater Teen Workshop, and 826 DC, a youth writing and tutoring center serving students in Washington, D.C.
To The Men On Fourteenth Street
By Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra
Everytime I walk by this street, my veins hit my heart making it sing a song.
The song of being afraid.
Afraid, I remember using that word when I was thrown on my knees and afraid to run away. Afraid when I was dragged by skirt and him telling me to shush.
Afraid when you called me and said my body is no longer mine but now it will soon be yours because soon you’ll be inside me and take all of my flowers.
I’m afraid I say.
As I look at my hands and feet I only see a vase.
A vase with water that sits still I am still water,
why are you going to make my oceans rip tides,
and make horrible hurricanes because
I will assure you I will soon become the tsunami.
I will gradually make chaos, I’m sick of being plucked and dragged!
I’m sick of my flower friends being plucked and dragged.
I will not stand still, because I have been turned into the tsunami
who can no longer be controlled by men on fourteenth street.
Men on fourteenth street, please don’t let any of the flowers on the street
sing the song of being afraid because I will again assure you
she and her flowers will become the next most terrifying thing.