things that matter

These Milk Cartons Are Bringing Attention To The Number Of Children Detained By The U.S.

Javier Rojas / mitú

During the 1980s and ’90s, photos would be put on milk cartons to raise public awareness about children who’d gone missing. 72U, a creative residency within agency 72andSunny, is now doing the same by installing a larger-than-life milk carton on Venice Beach to represent the more than 14,000 children who are currently detained by the U.S. government. The non-profit chose to highlight this issue because of the alarming number of detained children had risen from 2,400 in 2017 to over 14,000 in 2018.

The two-story polycarbonate Plexiglas milk carton is made up of 14,000 smaller cartons to represent each missing child.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas

The art piece titled “14,000 Missing Childhoods and Counting” is a project that took more than 2 months to build and was a collective work of eight different artists. Traecy Smith, 72U Residency Director, says immigration is one of the most contentious issues of our time and felt that art could be a way to shine a light on how drastic things really are. 72U has highlighted various social issues in the past and the agency felt this was appropriate considering the mass attention immigration received this year.

“Once I saw the number of separated children grew I knew we had to do something,” Smith said. “Society took their eyes off the issue but it was still happening and we knew if art could do anything is magnify the reality of the situation.”

The art piece was created from artists around the world including Mexico, Ecuador, and India.

2U residents Ginger Quintanilla, Taylor Alley, Tyler Hicks, Daniel Kim, Federico Zoppei, Jacqueline Miller, Raja Man, Wale Agboola, and Cristina Marquez came together to create the art piece. They hail from across the globe in places like Mexico, Ecuador, India, Africa, Italy, and Los Angeles. Many of the artists have seen similar social issues back home but were emboldened to create something after the Trump administration began separating families earlier this year. 

Smith says having a global collective of artists helped bring in various ideas and perspectives when creating the work. She says the issue of separated families isn’t just exclusive to America.

“By giving the art installation a global perspective, we acknowledge that the work and message isn’t just something that’s affecting people here in the U.S. but around the world,” Smith said.

Artists also consulted with many immigration organizations like the ACLU and Immigrant Defenders who gave input on the art piece. Smith says the art piece is part of a pending documentary on art and immigration as a whole.

Every milk cartoon inside the art structure has etchings on each box that represent aspects of children taken from detained immigrant youth.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas

Words like “Dad, “Freedom,” “Home” and “Future” are etched into the milk cartons to represent the wants of the children. Smith says she wants people to think of the reality for many of the children being detained and what they might be going through.

“We chose the milk carton for a specific reason,” Smith explained. “This is an item on every table and every family is aware of the milk carton and what it symbolizes, so that’s why we made this choice.”

The reaction to the art installation has been positive and has already gotten attention from the city of LA to possibly move the piece somewhere else in town for a longer stay. Smith says nothing is finalized but she sees the art piece finding a permanent home where more people can see the message.

The art installation has even gotten attention from people outside the U.S.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas

People from outside the U.S. have come to see the art piece because of its importance. It serves as a reminder of the lives for many in the immigrant community. Emilio Rosales came from Guatemala after he heard about the art piece on social media. He says the Trump administration’s policies are a humanitarian issue and feels that art like this highlights what’s really going on.

“What’s going on in America is sad and I see it all over the news and it makes you wanna do something about it,” Rosales said. “I look at this art and it makes me sad to know these children will never get to relive their childhood again. That’s the reality here.”

The art piece encourages people to engage via a QR code that links to a website created for the project. Visitors to 14000andcounting.org can sign an electronic petition and share campaign artwork on social media. The artwork is currently installed in Windward Plaza at the Venice Beach boardwalk.


READ: These Organizations Are Working For Our Community So Why Not Donate To Them This Holiday Season

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21 Reasons Why You Simply Must Watch Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar-Winning 'Roma'

Things That Matter

21 Reasons Why You Simply Must Watch Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-Winning ‘Roma’

“Roma” has taken the film world by storm. Most critics have already begun to include it in favorite film lists. Not just for this year but for ones that include works from the past 20 years as well. During a screening of the film at the 56th New York Film Festival, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro proclaimed it as one of his five favorite films of all time. Del Toro even made time to go to the Oscars, despite being sick, to hand Alfonso Cuarón his Oscar for Best Actor for “Roma.”

Here is some of what you can expect from the Oscar-winning film.

It fittingly deals with a taboo theme in Mexican society: race.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

There are amazing human moments in the Netflix flick. The theme of race runs throughout “Roma.” Like many Latin American countries, Mexico is a country that’s highly defined by race. In colonial times, the country was ruled by the caste system and today Mexican society continues to operate under similar conditions.

It deals with a dark and overlooked period in Mexican history.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

The period that “Roma” portrays is a tense calm. Three years after the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre and after the Olympic Games (which happened just a few weeks after the massacre), Mexico seemed to be in a historical juncture in which progress was possible. The ‘68 events had happened, and the government had swept it under the rug. There was a new president, who was one of the politicians responsible for the massacre. The presidency went from Gustavo Díaz Ordaz to Luis Echeverría, who was infamous for state repression. In the middle of the Cold War, there was a single-party system in Mexico that Nobel Prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian novelist, called the “perfect dictatorship”. It was covered with democratic paint but at its core, it was a repressive state, not only in the city with student movements but also in rural areas.

Yalitzia Aparicio’s breathtaking performance has been on everyone’s mind since the film was released.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Move over Merryl Streep. Yalitzia Aparicio is totally amazing in her first role, and the award season, while disappointing at the Oscars, was so kind to her.

Libo, Cuarón’s former nanny who is in her 90’s, is one of Cuarón’s biggest inspirations.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

The director wrote the script to honor Libo, an amazing tiny yet strong woman who held his family together in times of confusion and chaos. This picture is just too much.

It acknowledged the crucial role of domestic workers in family dynamics, especially in affluent communities.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Mexico City’s society functions because of domestic workers, who often take the role of main caregivers for children. This is shown in “Roma” in a candid, loving way.

It includes dialogue in indigenous languages, which is major right now.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Contrary to movies who are only spoken in Spanish or English, “Roma” stays true to its characters by having dialogue in Mixtec, the language spoken in some regions of Oaxaca.

It is a poignant look at the strength of Mexican mothers.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Any Latino knows that women are the cornerstone of families. Cuarón shows how crucial the role of mothers and abuelitas is in the household, and how they face tribulations with strength and wisdom.

It is a one-man-show and Cuarón got a lot of recognition at the 91st Academy Awards.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

It is rare to watch a movie in which the director takes on many roles. Cuarón wrote, produced, shot, directed and edited this one and it is a real clavado en su mente.

It celebrates our similarities, rather than our differences, as human beings and shows the power of humanity.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

On paper, there are few similarities between the wealthy and the struggling characters, but they share what matters the most: their basic humanity.

Cuarón has captured the true essence of Mexico City.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

If anyone grew up or has visited Mexico City will recognize the sights, sounds and even indications of smells that populate this modern day masterpiece. From the tamale carts to the knife sharpener it is just amazing.

It offers some of the most stunning images in recent cinema and that’s why it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Cuarón delves not only into his own personal memory as a very privileged Mexican but also into cinematic memory. There are winks to Italian neo-realism. There’s a very fond and amazing wink to Federico Fellini’s “8 ½(Otto o mezzo).” There’s a fantastic scene which deals with politics and state repression that is obviously an echo of The Battle of Algiers, a movie that Cuarón himself referenced in his other great work “Children of Men.”

It is ethnically diverse, showing what real Mexico looks like when you widen the lens of representation.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Most Mexican films that travel to world festivals or make it big in the box office only show white Mexicans that look like models. Not “Roma.” It is an ethnically diverse movie representing the country it depicts.

It features wrestler Latin Lover.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

There are plenty of pop culture references to 1970s Mexico, but also an appearance by the popular wrestler Latin Lover. Lucha libre fans will love this.

It demonstrates how awful Western standards of beauty truly are for so many people.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Aparicio is beautiful and the director shot her features in a way that prove this. It’s a reminder of how inaccurate beauty standards are, how non-inclusive the Western gaze can be. The fact that Aparicio has been ridiculed in social media because she is indigenous proves just how severe this problem continues to be.

It criticizes policies that lead to extreme poverty in underprivleged communities.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

People came from the countryside because the promises of the Mexican Revolution were not fulfilled for indigenous and rural populations. They all went to the city and these cinturones de miseria (belts of misery) were created around Mexico City. So, this movie is about that as well along with the historical memory of early 1970s Mexico.

It is the most chilango movie made, like, ever.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

What makes this film special is that Alfonso Cuarón took a deep dive into his own personal memory as a chilango– a white, middle-class Mexican from Mexico City, which is quite important because racial politics are extremely important in this film and the country as a whole.

Marriage is complicated and sometimes beyond any logic.

Credit: Roma. Netflix.

At the center of Roma’s story is a marital breakup. It is a simple, yet complicated situation that the director presents in a direct, non-melodramatic way. We very seldom see this approach in Mexican cinema, which is so influenced by telenovelas.

That ocean scene no manches, wow!

Credit: Roma / Netflix

We don’t want to spoil the movie but there is a crucial scene that happens among the waves and it is just breathtakingly gorgeous. So tense, so amazing. A moment that will live forever in film history.

Men are inconsequential in the film and it is so refreshing to see women at the center of the story.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

The movie is about women, and contrary to most mainstream stories men are just secondary characters. Hollywood should learn from this.

It offers some truly surreal moments.

Credit: Roma. Netflix.

Andre Breton, the father of the Surrealist Movement, once said that Mexico is surreal by nature. This is captured by this film, which offers some weird moments like this one, were a group of white Mexicans shoot guns in the woods just for fun.

All you need is love.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Love is the force that is ever so present in “Roma.” The film shows us that any obstacle can be belittled if we offer each other help and comfort.

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