R&B singer Miguel will perform in Adelanto, Calif. today as part of the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour, a series of concerts that aim to bring attention to the treatment of immigrants being held in detention centers across the country. According to Californians for Safety and Justice, the group behind the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour, there have been 22 prisons built since the 1980s in California, as opposed to one university during the same time. Californians for Safety and Justice want Californians to activate for more investment in schools and less investment in for-profit prisons. Adelanto Detention Center, which is owned by private prison corporation GEO Group, has been faced with several lawsuits. They were accused of breaking anti-slavery laws by pushing inmates into forced labor and breaking federal law by donating to the Trump administration as a governmental contractor.
“I was held for a very long time, almost ten years, and I can tell you this: these ‘detention centers,’ as they call them, they’re prisons without a doubt,” said Sylvester Owino, who was incarcerated for more than nine years and is speaking at Friday’s night’s event, says in a press release. “I came to the U.S. from Kenya, where I was afraid for my life. These prisons are profiting off of people like me, holding them for years for no good reason. We have to end it.”
The event is free to attend and will include performances by Los Rakas, Ceci Bastida, and Buyepongo. Comedian and actor Cristela Alonzo will be the emcee for the event. People who were formerly incarcerated at the Adelanto Detention Center will also be in attendance to speak to the audience.
“It’s important now, more than ever, for us to recognize humanity in one another,” Miguel said in a press release. “I’m just hoping to help educate myself on the realities of our immigration policy and also shed whatever light I can on the families dealing with cruel and unjust treatment in Adelanto.”
A global pandemic is still gripping the United States – along with much of the world. But still many Americans headed outside over the long holiday weekend and, before the evening fireworks, were greeted by powerful anti-ICE messages written in the skies.
The skywriting campaign comes as much of the world’s attention is focused on Covid-19 and organizers hope to redirect some attention on the thousands of migrants who remain locked up in detention centers across the country.
Activists took to the skies at more than 80 sites across the country with a powerful message against U.S. immigration policy.
Over the July 4th weekend, two fleets of skytyping airplanes created artist-generated messages across the U.S. The fleet of aircraft targeted 80 different ICE detention facilities, immigration court houses, processing centers, and former internment camps. Written with water vapor, the messages are designed to be seen and read for miles.
Each message ended with #XMAP, which, when plugged into social media, directs users to an online interactive map that offers a view of the closest ICE facilities to the user.
Visitors to the event’s website are encouraged to donate to local funds like the Black Immigrant Bail Fund and join the #FreeThemAll campaign, which advocates for the release of detainees from crowded facilities, where social distancing is often impossible right now.
The ambitious project took a year to plan, and is one component of an artist-led protest against immigrant detention and America’s mass incarceration problem. With “In Plain Sight,” organizers are hoping to educate viewers—and to encourage the abolition of facilities such as these.
“I think the public is somewhat aware of what’s happening in detention centers—they’ve seen the images of kids in cages—but they don’t know the full scale,” said Cassils, in an interview with Quartz.
The team aimed to set a national record with its #XMAP campaign.
The artists reached out to the only skywriting company in the country (which owns the patent on skywriting) and learned that the largest campaign executed over U.S. soil involved about 80 sites and three fleets of planes. That established the project’s framework, and from there they went about the task of bringing on collaborators, many of whom have experiences with immigration and the detainment of oppressed minority groups.
The artists they tapped vary in age, gender identity, and nationality; some are formerly incarcerated, or are descended from the descendants of Holocaust survivors. Black, Japanese-American, First Nations and Indigenous perspectives are present, speaking to the historical intersections of xenophobia, migration, and incarceration.
The protests were seen throughout Southern California – from LA to San Diego.
In Southern California, the demonstration kicked off on the 4th of July at 9:30 a.m. above the Adelanto Detention Center, before traveling to downtown L.A., where 15-character messages will be left in the late morning airspace above immigration facilities, county and federal lockups and courthouses. The planes then traveled to the Arcadia and Pomona locations of internment camps where Japanese Americans where held prisoner during World War II.
Later in the afternoon, planes were seeing typing messages in the sky above the Terminal Island detention center, before traveling further south to Orange County and San Diego, where messages were left above courts and immigration offices.
The campaign also popped up in El Paso, TX, where a massacre last year left many Latinos dead.
Binational, El Paso-based artist Margarita Cabrera activated the El Paso-Juárez portion of the performance with her message “UPLIFT: NI UNX MAS” at the Bridge of the Americas.
“Uplift” refers to uplifting immigrant communities, as well as the border fence and other immigration detention facilities. “Ni unx más” was inspired by Mexican poet and activist Susana Chávez’s 1995 phrase “ni una muerta más,” or “not one more [woman] dead.” The phrase protests femicides in Mexico, particularly in Juárez. Cabrera used X to be gender-neutral.
“This is a call to abolish this systematic violence and the incarceration and detention of our immigrants,” Cabrera told the El Paso Times. “We’re creating a sky activation, but we’re also grounding it with local events.”
Across the border in New Mexico, “ESTOY AQUI” and “SOBREVIVIRE” were respectively written over the Otero County Processing Center and Otero County Prison Facility. The messages draw from songs respectively by Shakira and Mexican pop star Monica Naranjo. Designed by artists Carlos Motta and Felipe Baeza, the full message, “I am here, I will survive,” is intended for both detainees and outside onlookers.
“We wanted to address those in the detention sites and acknowledge the fact that they are there, that we know they are there, and that they will be fine eventually even if their conditions are precarious and they are going through a difficult time right now,” Motta told the El Paso Times.
And in New York City, several major monuments became canvases for the activists’ message.
In New York City, the words “My pain is so big” were written over a detention center in downtown Brooklyn.
“To be human,” wappeared over Rikers Island and “Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia,” the name of the first immigrant to die from Covid-19 in detention was projected at the Statue of Liberty monument in Ellis Island.
ABC went all out over the weekend with their second round of “The Disney Family Singalong” and man will it ease your worries.
If you didn’t already tune into the television special when it aired the first time around on April 16, the latest episode is definitely one to join in on. ABC started the new program in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and is meant to rally families, friends, and celebrities together for a night of entertainment, laughs and songs. The new series has already featured some of Disney’s most beloved musical numbers from its classic films which are sung by the top musicians currently in the game.
Last month, in April, stars like Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Beyoncé, and others gathered around their cameras to sing to families across the country for “The Disney Family Singalong.” The event, which was hosted by Ryan Seacrest, saw performers in their home environments using minimal equipment and “a whole lot of harmony” to get fans watching to join in on the fun. To make things seamless, the lyrics which featured Disney’s most popular songs were displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Anyway, for Mother’s Day, ABC kicked off a second episode of the special and it was pretty dang magical.
For “The Disney Family Singalong: Volume II,” ABC really reached for the stars, wrangling in the likes of Katy Perry, Idina Menzel, and John Legend.
But the best part of the night came when Miguel and Christina Aguilera joined forces to sing a bilingual rendition of “Remember Me” from Coco.
During their portion of the singalong special, Miguel and Aguilera belted out the lyrics to the Disney-Pixar classic singing both in English and Spanish. Making the performance even more special, an all-female Mariachi band joined in to bring life to the song’s melody.