The other was Allen and Rashad’s mother, the poet Vivian Ayers-Allen. When Allen was 9, Ayers-Allen, who had once studied Mayan culture, took her daughters to live in Mexico, in Mexico City and a village near Tenancingo, for nine months. “Mom was tired of the segregation and the racism,” Allen says, “so she decided to take us out of here and show us what she had been talking about all along.” There, Allen and her sister could sit and order hamburgers with their mother at a lunch counter. Allen could go to dance class, “and they were happy about it. They thought I was talented,” she says. It opened Allen’s eyes to possibilities she hadn’t imagined.