Written by Michelle Chen and cross posted from CultureStrike.net
At the workshop, surrounded by a small gathering of people holding colorful hand-scrawled signs, Lupe Mendez, poet and self-proclaimed “Librotraficante,” reflected on his adventure as a book smuggler of sorts. Back in 2012, when the Arizona education authorities sought to crack down on a Chicano-focused ethnic studies program in public schools, he and other activists launched a campaign to “traffic” the contraband literature—works by radical authors, poets of color, and other rebel storytellers. Now before his fellow workshop participants, Mendez held up a simple placard displaying block-print alphabet in black and blue letters. He voiced his answer to the prompt for the workshop: getting people to think about why telling stories is important.
“See the letters below?” Mendez said. “This is my ‘why’: I want to share, discover the ways to tell the stories, create the voices of color that our histories need, and to build a Librotraficante Nation.”
The participants in the workshop at the Facing Race Conference, “Stepping Up Cultural Strategy: How can Racial Justice Rise Above the Noise?” focused on building out that storyline, the “why” that activists are questing for. The theme was the core of our “cultural strategy”: “the potential of arts experiences and cultural content to shift how people feel, think, and communicate about an issue. Read more…
I’m helping produce a series of video for the Women’s Refugee Commission which is celebrating 25 years of improving the lives and protecting the rights of refugee women and children.
Audio Recordings Document Abuse in Immigration Detention
LOS ANGELES – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) releases seven audio recordings and videos, featuring the voices of people in immigration detention across California. As video and audio recording generally is not allowed in immigration detention facilities, people in immigration detention requested that CIVIC record their voices to share with a larger audience online. Through these telephone conversations, CIVIC documented arbitrary use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, physical abuse by ICE officers, prolonged detention, retaliatory transfers, and other aspects of life inside immigration detention.
Last week, I participated in the 3rd annual SPINAcademy South in Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. The four-day training is specifically designed for organizers and advocates working on immigration issues across the South; a sort of summer camp to learn effective communications skills and storytelling strategies for their organizations.
As part of the training, I led a “tactics team” on audio storytelling and the participants decided to make a radio story connecting their own migration experiences with those of refugee children now arriving at the US/Mexico border.