Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Latinx Immigrants in Queens

In the heart of Jackson Heights, Queens, a vibrant Latinx community thrives that significantly enriches the diversity of New York City. However, the challenges faced by immigrant Latinx families and their children often remain hidden, overshadowed by issues such as limited access to education, mental health services, discrimination, and gender-based violence.

Our Initiative: Key Findings:

Equity for Children, in collaboration with The StoryCenter and Voces Latinas, embarked on a
groundbreaking research project that uncovers these challenges and helps empower Latinx
immigrants. The initiative sought to amplify the voices of 24 Latinx women in New York City,
offering a close and revealing glimpse into their personal journeys to the United States. Our
aim, through the power of storytelling and coupled with the project’s qualitative findings, was
to bring these stories to the forefront, shedding light on the barriers to social cohesion and
paving the way for positive change.

The Methodology:

This study used Digital Storytelling (DST) techniques and processes designed by The
StoryCenter. DST is an innovative, collaborative, arts-based research method that combines
storytelling, teamwork, and technology to facilitate the creation of two to three-minute video
clips featuring personal stories that use a combination of photos, sound, and other audio

Through Story Circles and DST, the groups of Latinx women, including cisgender, heterosexual,
and LGBTQ+ individuals, shared their experiences. These ranged from pre-migration trauma to
the challenges of their migration journeys and the opportunities and obstacles they have
encountered since arriving in the United States. The project helped transform the participants
from individuals often viewed as statistics into people with real stories.

The resulting collection of two to three-minute videos featured powerful personal stories. It
identifies common barriers to education, growth, and empowerment that participants
commonly face. These videos provided a platform for these courageous women to express their
voices, nurture creativity, and create intimate connections between participants and the

To view the first video that features Nhora, from Colombia, click here.

Key Findings:

-Six Lenses for Analysis: Our research used six critical dimensions to analyze the stories
of migrant Latinx women: gender, migration stories, sense of community, access to
education, choosing NYC, and the impact of COVID-19.

-Barriers to Social Cohesion: Story Circles unveiled numerous obstacles to social
cohesion, including discrimination, language barriers, limited education access,
domestic and sexual violence, food and housing insecurity, informal employment,
unemployment, loneliness, and mental and physical health challenges.

-Four Important Takeaways: The stories of Latinx women illuminated serious and
traumatic situations in their countries of origin, the arduous journey of illegal
immigration, the vital role played by support networks, and the ongoing personal and
social development of both women and their children.

Our Recommendations: Our research findings offer three key insights and recommendations
that can promote understanding, inspire action, and use digital storytelling for advocacy:

Inspiring Action: The results can help strengthen bonds with the Latinx population,
integrating them more fully into the New York City’s vital networks. By reshaping
negative narratives about migration, we can recognize and appreciate the contributions
of Latinx individuals to economic, social, and leadership development.

Educational Materials: This storytelling methodology can be used by educators to
develop research and educational materials that promote understanding and empathy.
This methodology provides a roadmap for exploring the experiences of isolated and
vulnerable populations.

Storytelling for Advocacy: Digital storytelling, analysis, and advocacy are powerful tools
for decision-makers in public, civic, and private organizations. The stories uncovered in
this research serve as a powerful collective narrative about the Latinx immigrant
experience that can be used to facilitate policy changes and social integration.

We invite you to join us in embracing the power of storytelling and to work toward a future
where every voice is heard and every story matters. These narratives open the door to a deeper
understanding of the challenges faced by the Latinx community and possible pathways to
growth and empowerment. By amplifying Latinx women’s voices and encouraging action we
can build a more inclusive and equitable society.

To read the full report and references click here.

Special Thanks:

We extend our gratitude to The Spencer Foundation for making this research possible and to
our partners, Voces Latinas and The StoryCenter. Most importantly, we thank the brave
participants who shared their life stories with us.

Project Team:

Alberto Minujin, Executive Director, Equity for Children
Gabriel Crespo, Associate Director, Equity for Children
Ximena Gonzalez, Research Assistant, Equity for Children
Allison Myers, The StoryCenter
Andrea Spagat, The StoryCenter
Tania Batres, Voces Latinas
Lissette Marrero, Voces Latinas

How You Can Help: Your support is crucial to continue this vital work. By contributing toward
the continuation of this project, you enable Equity for Children to amplify the voices of
marginalized communities and advocate for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Join us in making a difference today. Donate Now

The Partners

The participants in the project are clients of Voces Latinas, an NGO that offers services including domestic violence and intimate partner support, safety planning, safe housing, health insurance navigation, peer training for HIV-positive and negative individuals, HIV testing, and linkages to care.

StoryCenter is a nonprofit media arts organization with nearly 30 years of experience in
implementing storytelling processes. They are experts and authors of the Digital Storytelling (DST) approach to voice the experiences of Latinx participants and support them as they share their first-person stories.

Equity for Children is a research center housed at The New School that focuses on translating academic knowledge into useful tools for all those who work in defense and promotion of child and adolescent rights. Equity for Children has an extensive worldwide experience in research and advocacy on child and family poverty and rights.

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