© 2017 by Shantel Sosa

Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe

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I am Rodriguez Del Orbe. I migrated to the U.S from the Dominican Republic at eight years old and was raised in University Heights, the Bronx. I was undocumented for thirteen years before I was able to adjust my immigration status. But even now, I am part of a mixed-status family whom Danyeli are targeted every day by the current presidential administration. Currently, my biggest struggle is maintaining a positive outlook and good mental health while knowing that at any time, my family can be deported. To keep myself strong, I dedicate my time to my clients and my poetry. I am a legal representative at a non-profit organization where I help people with their immigration status. The act of direct service keeps me fighting for my community, but my poetry keeps me grounded. Through poetry, I have found the perfect channel to share stories of my homeland and my experience as a black Dominican immigrant growing up in The Bronx. Poetry feels like breathing underwater. It is my best form of resistance because I get to shed a light on an experience that is often forced into silence. This year, I am applying to law school to keep up the fight inside the court as well, but poetry helps me heal what the law cannot. It allows me to express myself outside of laws that are set in stone and written against my community. I am nervous for the next few years, but I have no doubt that my community will always protect me and look after me whether I am a poet, a lawyer, or neither. The Bronx fostered in me a sense of resilience and strength that I will always be thankful for. Despite the crimes, poverty, and prejudices, my neighborhood is rich in culture and survival. We continue to laugh, dance, party, and raise our next generation no matter who is in power. This, to me, will always be admirable.