Culture

Meet The Artist Who Pays Latino Day Laborers To Be Subjects In His Paintings

525w22 / Instagram

Meet John Sonsini.

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Sonsini originally focused on painting nudes, but a conversation with a day laborer took him in a new direction.

#johnsonsini @525w22

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The day laborer, Gabriel, soon became Sonsini’s partner in crime.

#JohnSonsini #amerigermceneryyohe #oiloncanvas #painting #art #artist #artofinstagram #colorcombo

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Soon, Sonsini was painting other day laborers too.

sonsini-painting
Credit: John Sonsini / artsy.net

“It was my partner Gabriel’s idea to approach the guys gathering for work in the neighborhood of our studio. So the notion of painting dayworkers grew entirely out of my need to have sitters who were available to work daily in the studio,” he said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Sonsini’s pays his subjects which can sit for him as long as two weeks.

#johnsonsini @525w22 opening 2/11. Incredible stature. We are a country of immigrants. #contmporaryart #chelsea

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Why is Sonsini drawn to day laborers? Because he can relate.

#johnsonsini #ameringermceneryyohe

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If you look at enough of his work, you’ll notice lots of defiant stares and somber expressions.

What does it all mean? It’s up to you.

Although he has focused on painting day laborers for more than a decade, Sonsini says he’s not trying to send a specific message in his work. “Sometimes I try to recreate a facial expression, or bodily gesture, but I try to steer away from trying to convey anything personal or biographical about the sitter. I like all that to be very open, far preferring the viewer to make of it what they will,” said Sonsini to The Huffington Post.

Are you a fan of these Latino day laborer paintings? If you want to share the power of art, hit the share button below!

French Montana Says He Wants To Be The ‘Face Of Hope’ For Migrants And He’s Determined To Make That Happen

Entertainment

French Montana Says He Wants To Be The ‘Face Of Hope’ For Migrants And He’s Determined To Make That Happen

FrenchMontana / Instagram

French Montana told TMZ he wants to be the “face of hope” for immigrants who come to America. It’s a feeling no doubt many immigrants have right now. The Trump Administration’s depraved immigration policy has resulted in the deaths of citizens and non-citizens. Many immigrant children have died in immigration detention centers due to inhumane and unhygienic conditions. The deeply racist rhetoric towards Latinx and Muslim immigrants, in particular, has made the two groups targets of domestic terrorism. 

This summer a gunman killed at least 20 people in an El Paso, Texas Wal-Mart. In his “manifesto,” the shooter referred to his attack as a response to a “Hispanic invasion.” In January, four men were arrested in New York for planning to attack a small Muslim community. Trump has referred to Mexicans as “rapists,” and called people from Syria, a Muslim-majority nation, “snakes.” All of these men were avid Trump supporters and some unabashedly spewed his hateful talking points on their social media accounts. 

French Montana is proud to be an immigrant.

French Montana has always been outspoken about his African heritage. Born and raised in Morocco before his family immigrated to the Bronx, New York when he was 13 years old. Even with English as his second language, he was able to have a thriving career as a rapper. 

French believes if he hadn’t come to America he wouldn’t have been able to pursue his dreams. He wants similar opportunities for all the other “French Montanas” out there who are seeking the American Dream. 

“I just feel like I came from nothing and I was immigrated to this country,” French told TMZ. “I would have never been ‘French Montana’ if I wasn’t immigrated. I feel like there’s a lot of French Montanas out there.”

French wants to be the “face of hope” for immigrants. 

“I want to be the perfect example for these young kids that come from Africa, that come from third world countries, that come from places that have no hope and all you have is faith,” French said. “I want to be the face of that. We got to mold that and use this platform to broadcast whatever dreams everybody got.”

But he won’t be working with Donald Trump on a better tomorrow for immigrants.

When he was asked if he would work with Trump, Montana seemed uninterested. Instead, he hoped to take a more hands-on role in the African community. 

“I don’t know if I would do that,” he said. “But, I’ll go build a couple hospitals in Uganda and Morocco. Build schools and things that I’ve been doing.” 

While celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Karamo Brown have had meetings with Trump and his administration to improve criminal justice, race relations, and LGBTQ+ relations, respectively, only one has had success. Kim Kardashian credits herself with getting the President to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who spent 21 years in prison for a first-time, non-violent drug charge. 

While every fight for human rights requires everyone to be activated, many activists felt Kardashian’s role overshadowed and downplayed the decades of work put in by real organizers and activists. 

French Montana has been critical of Trump in the past.

Last year, French was critical of Kanye West’s association with Trump and expressed disappointment in Trump’s plan to end the DACA program. 

“But I’m not feeling what he [West]  doing with holding Trump down. I don’t respect nobody who take away education from students. [Trump] took away education from millions of students. They don’t have the DACA program. You know, this country was built on immigrants. Nobody’s from here,” French said. 

The President is just as responsible as the gunmen who pull the triggers.

It isn’t shocking that any immigrant, whether as successful as French or not would oppose the Trump administration. The President’s hateful rhetoric puts immigrants and their loved ones at great risk every day.

“The president may not be pulling the trigger or planting the bomb, but he is enabling much of the hatred behind those acts. He is giving aid and comfort to angry white men by offering them clear targets — and then failing to fully denounce their violence,” wrote Mehdi Hasan for The Intercept.

This isn’t the first time French Montana has stepped up for immigrants.

In 2018, French teamed up with MTV and the nonprofit Get Schooled for the “We Are the Dream” campaign which provides resources to undocumented immigrants seeking higher education. 

“I am one of tens of thousands of first- and second-generation immigrants that are having a significant positive impact on the United States. I am excited to lead others in this fight to ensure Dreamers connect with support they need to get to college and make their American Dream come true,” he told Rolling Stone. 

We need celebrities like French Montana to use their platform and stories to amplify the voices of immigrants. We’re not safe here until all of us are safe here. 

An Elderly Woman Is Going Viral After Her Heart Warming And Crushing Poem About Immigration Had Everyone Crying

Culture

An Elderly Woman Is Going Viral After Her Heart Warming And Crushing Poem About Immigration Had Everyone Crying

A video of a woman in Los Angeles reciting her poem about her pride in being Mexican in the U.S. is quickly going viral with Latinx from every country showing their support for her words. The video was posted by Jerry Ulloa Zatarain on Facebook and at the start of it the woman insists that the man recording gets her name – Celia – so people know who she is as she stands on a street in Los Angeles to passionately present her words. 

The viral video shows the elderly woman as she recites a poem about the history of Mexican immigration.

An elderly Lady that was interviewed in the city of Los Angeles CA

Posted by Jerry Ulloa Zatarain on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

“Por que yo soy Mexicana dicen que yo soy illegal,” she begins. “pero si tu lees la historia esta es mi tierra natal.” This translates to “Because I am Mexican they say that I am illegal. But if you read the story this is my homeland.”

Her words ring true for Mexicans considering that before the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico owned the land that later became California, Nevada, and Utah, and portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. The area was sold to the U.S. for $15 million and the treaty also officially recognized Texas as a U.S. state after it joined states in 1846. 

The treaty also states that Mexicans could retain their lands and become U.S. citizens but over time they were stripped of more than nearly 20 million acres of land by businesses, ranchers, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture among others in power.  

The powerful poem honors the immigration experience of Mexicans of the past, present, and future.

Facebook

“Pero tu, gringo Americano, tu si eres ilegal, porque yo so Mexicana aqui me voy a quedar,” she adds. “Y aunque tu pongas la barda, yo me la voy a brincar por arriba, por abajo ni cuenta te vas a dar.”

These sentiments are shared by many young Mexicans and Mexican immigrants especially in light of the immigration crisis happening at the border. With the Trump administration going after undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, these words are needed now more than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2017 there were 4.9 million undocumented immigrants from Mexico in the U.S. but of the estimated 33 million Mexicans living in the U.S., 22.3 million were born in the U.S

Long before Trump and his hateful rhetoric and border wall mongering there has been a wall (psychological and physical) separating the U.S. from Mexico. Border Patrol in the U.S. was established in 1924 and President Bill Clinton mandated the construction of a 13-mile wall between San Diego and Tijuana in 1993. By 2011, The Department of Homeland Security completed construction on 649 miles of barriers and for many, this is an affront to the beliefs that were part of the establishment of the United States. For Mexicans like Celia, it’s also a reminder of the land that once belonged to the indigenous communities that are now part of a country that is becoming more hostile to Mexican immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. 

Later Celia adds that “el Mexicano no raja, el viene aqui a trabajar” (the Mexican does not crack, he comes here to work) which is a sentiment evident in the large number of farmworkers that come from Mexico, 68 percent to be exact. The need for farm workers is so dire that even the Trump administration conceded to the demands of farmers and streamlined the H-2A visa process that allows them to work legally in the U.S. There are 27.4 million immigrant workers in the U.S., which makes up 17.1 percent of the total number of workers (undocumented or not), according to a 2018 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But negative stereotypes and portrayals of Mexicans and immigrants in general as violent, lazy, and overall criminals persist. Studies consistently find that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than those born in the U.S.  and the crime rate actually plummeted 45 percent between 1990 and 2010 even though the overall percentage of immigrants and the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. both increased sharply, reported the Anti-Defamation League. 

“Dime gringo Americano, dime tu que haces aquí, si tu veniste de lejos,” Celia said. “Tu vienes de otro país, si el Mexicano es mojado, también tu lo eres aquí.” 

The fact that the U.S. is a land founded by immigrants and that should continue to welcome immigrants stands in stark contrast to the current policies and the images of families in cages going without medical care or basic necessities on the border. About a month ago, a mural called “Chained Migration.” was revealed in Las Vegas showing the State of Liberty getting arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

For these reasons, Celia’s words have had a profound effect on those who have seen the nearly two-minute video on Facebook. 

Facebook

One commenter even translated the entire poem into English and many shared their own Mexican pride, thanking her for her words. 

She closes the poem by saying, “Y si la migra me agarra, yo me vuelvo a regresar,” she said. ” y aunque los gringos no quieran, aquí me van enterrar.” 

Celia’s words are filled with pride, passion, and defiance and in a time when the Latinx community seemingly spends more time than ever defending their rights it’s a good reminder to listen to the sage advice of our elders.