Event (5/3/23): “Why Can’t We Breathe?” Fighting Environmental Racism in the Bronx

Date and time

Wednesday, May 3 · 6 – 7:30pm EDT


The Graduate Center, CUNY 365 5th Avenue Skylight Room New York, NY 10016 United States

Futures Initiative Faculty Fellows

Ángeles Donoso Macaya is an immigrant educator, researcher and activist from Santiago, Chile, based in New York City. She is Professor of Spanish at the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY and Professor of Latin American Cultures and Visual Studies in the Ph.D. Program in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures at The CUNY Graduate Center. Ángeles’ research centers on Latin American photography theory and history, counter-archival production, human rights activism, documentary film, and feminisms in the Southern Cone, and public humanities scholarship.

Ashley Dawson is currently Professor of Postcolonial Studies in the English Department at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), and at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. He currently works in the fields of environmental humanities and postcolonial ecocriticism. He is the author of three recent books relating to these fields: People’s Power (O/R, 2020), Extreme Cities (Verso, 2017) and Extinction (O/R, 2016). Other areas of interest of his include the experience and literature of migration, including movement from colonial and postcolonial nations to the former imperial center (Britain in particular), and from rural areas to mega-cities of the global South such as Lagos and Mumbai. 

Guest Speaker

Odalys Burgoa is an artist, garden steward and community member in various areas of the Bronx and Uptown. They steward Anthony Ave Garden and are a Board member of Bronx Land Trust, a non profit that hosts non state owned, private green spaces for public use. They currently teach Hydroponics and are opening a garden on the Bronx Green Middle School Campus. Focusing on the importance of memory and resilience, they facilitate public programming throughout different areas of the Bronx to assist in meeting Material needs, art programs to support healing and memory sharing workshops such as digitizing memories and film photography. They were a panelist at Berkeley on Biomigrations and have exhibited artwork at Unlocal Office Space, various DIY spaces, The Clemente and the New York Botanical Garden. They truly believe the revolution will not have a Non-profit Status.

Guest Speaker

Alicia Grullón uses performance and self-portrait as a critique on the politics of presence. Grullón has participated in exhibitions including The 8th Floor; Bronx Museum of the Arts; BRIC House for Arts and Media; El Museo del Barrio; and Columbia University. She has received grants from the Puffin Foundation; Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York; and Franklin Furnace Archives. Grullón has participated in residencies at the Hemispheric Institute for Politics and Performance at New York University; Center for Book Arts; and Bronx Museum of Arts AIM program. Her work has been reviewed in Hyperallergic, ArtNet News, New York Times and Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. Grullón is a recipient of the 2019 Colene Brown Art Prize and the 2020-2022 Walentas fellowship at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. She holds a BFA from TISCH at New York University, an MFA from the State University of New York at New Paltz and has done doctoral coursework in Art and Art Education at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University. In 2021, Grullon received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Moore College of Art in Design in Fine Arts.

Her activist work led her to be one of the initial and current organizers for the People’s Cultural Plan (PCP), a collection of artists and cultural workers addressing inadequacies with the city’s first proposed cultural plan. The PCP’s 17-page plan is divided into 3 planks: Housing & Displacement, Cultural Funding Equity & Labor Equity. It launched in July 2017 at Artists Space and in September, PCP’s response to the city’s plan was published in Hyperallergic. Grullón has co-authored Op Eds about PCP for Hyperallergic and City Limits and self-authored for The Latinx Project at New York University. Grullón’s legislative art project PERCENT FOR GREEN looks at climate change from the perspective of environmental injustices in cities and the Bronx and has created a functioning green bill with Bronx residents. She has presented on this project at the Annual Art Historians Association”s conference in London, United States Art Educators Association, Creative Time Summit 2015, and The American Museum of Natural History.

This event is sponsored by The Futures Initiative and part of the University Worth Fighting For, a series of workshops that tie student-centered, engaged pedagogical practices to institutional change, race, equality, gender, and social justice. To keep up to date about Futures Initiative events SUBSCRIBE to the Futures Initiative Newsletter for exciting news, public programs and opportunities. 


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309