This filmmaker investigated what it is like to be African in Mexico.
Filmmaker Ebony Bailey’s documentary film “Life Between Borders: Black Migrants in Mexico” is a glimpse into the lives of black African and Caribbean migrants in Mexico. The film dives into the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, where many Haitian migrants are “stuck” in Mexico following an order by former President Barack Obama. After the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, many Haitians left the country to find work in countries such as Brazil. When the U.S. suspended deportations of Haitian nationals and granted them humanitarian visas to enter the country following the 2010 earthquake, many Haitians began traveling through Mexico to enter the U.S. But the order was eventually reversed, leaving thousands of Haitians who were traveling from Brazil to the U.S., effectively stranded in Mexico.
Bailey’s film also explores the relationship between Mexicans and migrants of African descent. Seynabou, the child of a Mexican national and an African immigrant, discusses facing discrimination from teachers, professors and law enforcement. Seynabou also talks about creating Cocina Baobab, a cultural organization that serves dishes from the African Diaspora to show the influences of African food on Mexican cuisine.
“I would tell all black people arriving in Mexico not to give up hope,” Seynabou told Bailey. “The literal problem that exists is that we are black because European immigration does not bring discomfort. It is welcome. White migration is always welcome. It’s not a problem. Black migration will always be one. So, don’t lose hope; don’t put your head down. Work hard. In the end, money is the consequence of work and well-being is the consequence of work.”
As the 2020 presidential election draws near, every public act that involves issues of citizenship and migration becomes a political statement (perhaps involuntarily, but a statement nevertheless). That is why having a civic act involving issues of immigration in front of a stadium full of baseball fans is a super relevant ideological statement. Last weekend, at Citizen Bank Park in Philly, a few individuals had one of the most significant days of their lives.
Fifteen new American citizens were sworn in before the Phillies-Red Sox game last Sunday.
Credit: Screen capture. CBS News.
Yes, 15 new American citizens of all kinds of origins were cheered as they waved flags and swore their allegiance to the United States. The new citizens, of all kinds of backgrounds, are a true snapshot of multicultural America, a representation that goes counter to the Trump Era vision of exclusivity and privilege.
As reported by CBS News, MLB has become an advocate for this kind of ceremonies: “Fifteen new Philadelphia-area residents from 11 different countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens Sunday at the game. The newly minted U.S. citizens are among the over 700 new citizens who have been naturalized at 11 professional ballparks this summer”. By the way, the Phillies lost 6-3 to Boston, but the evening had a celebratory vibe, of course!
And what could be more American than becoming a citizen in Philadelphia, right?
Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.
After all, the United States Constitution was signed by the Founding Fathers there, right? What a moment it must have been for the 15 new citizens, some of whom surely had perilous migration paths, when they heard: “”Congratulation, you are now citizens of the United States of America. You now share the same rights, the same privilege, the same obligations as any citizen of this great country”. And to be honest, there are few things as American as a day at the ballpark.
And let’s remember that Pennsylvania was all red after the 2016 presidential election, so statements like this are increasingly important for those who wish Trump to be kicked out of office.
Just look at that red tide. Pennsylvania is heavily reliant on manufacturing industries that have been hit hard by global trade and the move of American companies overseas. The steel manufacturing industry, for instance, has lived under extreme duress for decades. This is perhaps why Trump’s message resonated with disgruntled workers. The state has large numbers of Latino presence, mainly Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. So statements of civil inclusion such as the citizenship ceremony at the stadium could send a message: we are all the same, we all deserve a shot, we are all equal.
All it takes is a good hearted judge with a love for baseball.
Credit: Twitter. @PhillyInquirer
The ceremony was performed by Juan R. Sanchez, a judge of Puerto Rican origin who understood what multiculturalism really means on a personal level when baseball made him feel part of the community. He told CBS News: “We hope we remind people of the tremendous privileges we have under the constitution. And remind people that we have a responsibility to be engaged.” Preach, querido juez Sanchez.
Last year the ceremony had 19 new Americans, so the trend is continuing that is just una chingonería.
Credit: Twitter. @GraceMarioano
The trend is constant now. Last year 19 new Americans were welcome at a Phillies game. By the way, those red hats are Phillies cachuchas, so don’t be alarmed!
But the trend goes back to the early 2010s, as reported by the Portland Press Herald. In 2012, before a Minor League game more than two dozen children were welcome as United States citizens: “The children were part of a pre-game ceremony that celebrated their new citizenship at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs. The children, from Congo, Germany, the Philippines and Somalia, were presented certificates recognizing their citizenship, derived from their naturalized parents or adoption. After the ceremony was held between home plate and the backstop, the children and their families stayed for the Sea Dogs’ game with the Reading Phillies. The children held a giant American flag during the playing of the national anthem”.
Becoming a citizen of a foreign country is a big step in anyone’s life, particularly if they flee perilous circumstances at home, so having a whole stadium cheer you must be quite something!
Citizenship ceremonies at Phillies’ games have a dual purpose: make new Americans feel welcome and educating the public.
Credit: Twitter. @SU2Citizenship
The best way to make a statement is a lived experience. The thousands of fans that have been overcome by emotion as new Americans are welcomed can see, and feel, how great cultural diversity is. This photo is from a ceremony in 2015.
We are Los Dodgers fans, but the Philadelphia Phillies will always have a special place in our hearts.
Credit: Facebook. Philadelphia Phillies.
As Angelenos and Latinos we remain loyal to our Dodgers, but we gotta admit that the Phillies are growing on us thanks to their approach. They make citizenship ceremonies a community affair
Selena Gomez continues her reign as a Netflix producer with Living Undocumented. It is always great when celebrities use their platforms to enrich and educate. Gomez has a huge platform and can generate huge numbers. 13 Reasons Why blew Netflix’s expectations out of the water, and I can’t help but think it’s because of Gomez’s enormous Instagram following. The girl has reach.
As you might have guessed, Living Undocumented is a documentary series that follows the lives of undocumented immigrants as they navigate life under the looming threat of increasingly cruel immigration policies and ICE raids.
Selena Gomez announces Living Undocumented on Instagram
“I am so humbled to be a part of Netflix’s documentary series Living Undocumented. The immigration issue is more complex than one administration, one law or the story you hear about on the news. These are real people in your community, your neighbors, your friends—they are all part of the country we call home. I can’t wait for you guys to see this and hope it impacts you like it impacted me. Available globally October 2,” Gomez wrote.
Living Undocumented will focus on eight undocumented families. Premiering on October 2nd on Netflix, the show will chronicle the families as they face possible deportation. The narratives will range from hopeful to infuriating, but the series will put a human face on a dehumanized group of people.
It cannot be said again that the United States has always struggled with two contradictory narratives: the one where it is a beacon of hope for the tired, hungry, and poor, versus the one where it has upheld numerous racist and xenophobic immigration policies. This is an issue that predates Trumpito, even if he has kicked it into it’s most degrading form.
“I chose to produce this series, Living Undocumented because, over the past few years, the word ‘immigrant’ has seemingly become a negative word,” said Gomez. “My hope is that the series can shed light on what it’s like to live in this country as an undocumented immigrant firsthand, from the courageous people who have chosen to share their stories.”
Gomez is joined by executive producers Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Mandy Teefey, Anna Chai, and Sean O’Grady. Chai will also co-direct the series.
“Living Undocumented is designed to illuminate one of the most important issues of our time. But rather than discussing this issue with only statistics and policy debates, we wanted viewers to hear directly from the immigrants themselves, in their own words, with all the power and emotion that these stories reflect.”
Humanizing immigrants is key
People don’t just bring guns into Walmarts to kill 22 innocent humans beings for no reason. It is no secret that President Trump’s dehumanizing language was a catalyst for the El Paso shooting. The suspect whose name shall not be invoked told officers he was looking to kill “Mexicans.” Mexicans — the Latinxs Trump referred to as rapists and criminals. The mass murderer also said he wanted to stop a “Hispanic Invasion,” in his manifesto. Trump called Central Americans “invaders.”
According to Pew Research Center, this year they found that 58 percent of Latinx adults say they experienced discrimination because of their race or ethnicity. Across all races and ethnic groups, two-thirds of individuals surveyed say that expressing racist views has become more common since Trump was elected.
This year, at a Trump rally, supporters were cheering about shooting immigrants.
“How do you stop these people?” Trump asks. Then someone yelled back, “Shoot them.” Trump smiled. The crowd cheered. Three months later, the El Paso shooting took 22 lives.
“The language that criminalizes and makes Latinos out to be evil is affecting our own citizens and it’s going to have both short- and long-term consequences that we are starting to see in the Latino population,” Elizabeth Vaquera, an associate professor at George Washington University who studies vulnerable groups, told the Washington Post.
A Bipartisan Non-Issue Becomes A Partisan Issue
This immigration “issue” started off as a hoax but through Trump’s horrible policies he created this new immigration crisis. In 2017, when Trump took office, migrants arrested at the border were at the lowest level in three decades.
Three former employees of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote in Politico, the border crisis is all Trump’s fault.
“It is Donald Trump himself who is responsible. Through misguided policies, political stunts and a failure of leadership, the president has created the conditions that allowed the asylum problem at the border to explode into a crisis.”
A Public Religion Research Institute survey found that 80 percent of Democrats view the fact that the majority of the United States will be nonwhite by 2045 as a good thing, while 61 percent of Republicans say it is bad.
The barrage of harmful rhetoric has turned what was not even a problem into a national crisis with opinions straddling partisan lines, and a heightened hatred of Latinx people. Living Undocumented might be exactly what this country needs.
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