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Go back to any major US political event within the past few decades and you can see the same key themes resonating with today’s climate. I leave it to you to decide whether this makes such times prophetic of our own or merely indicates the cyclical nature of the beast. In either case, the battle over California Proposition 187 in 1994 is a dark forbear of contemporary discourse around immigration. That ballot initiative was a reaction to a string of economic, social, and environmental upheavals that laid the blame for all the state’s woes on undocumented immigrants. The new documentary 187: The Rise of the Latino Vote, directed by members of the art collective Dignicraft, revisits this controversy and examines its fallout.
Among other things, Prop 187 called to block undocumented immigrants from public services, including education and non-emergency healthcare, and for the institution of a statewide citizenship-screening system. It was blatantly unconstitutional, flagrantly targeted people of Central American descent, and would cost more money to implement than it would supposedly save by preventing undocumented people from “leeching” off the system. A large majority of Californians opposed it. And yet a majority of those who voted (or at least were able to vote) allowed the measure to pass. Racism and xenophobia overrode all logical concerns. The echoes of 2016 are obvious, and demonstrate the distressing staying power of anti-immigrant (especially anti-Latinx) sentiment in US politics.
But despite its passage, Prop 187 was never enforced and ultimately discarded after a few years, and that’s thanks to the wave of activism and solidarity it galvanized among Latinx Californians and their allies. The documentary 187 posits this political awakening among the state’s Latinx population as the prime mover for California’s shift to becoming the Democratic stronghold it’s been for the past few decades.
Dignicraft incorporates archival materials into 187 with flair, playing historical news footage on miniature TV screens to clearly delineate it from contemporary interviews with figures like California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo and Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF) President Thomas Saenz. It’s as though the materials are the collective memory of the interviewees. (And in a sense, our media history could be said to be an embodiment of our collective memory.) This also underscores how political movements in the modern age are both driven by and filtered through the mass media. Despite all the changes to the communications landscape since the ’90s, that’s another element that certainly hasn’t changed.
187: The Rise of the Latino Vote premieres Tuesday, October 6 in Southern California on KCET, with encores following nationwide.
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
Tanega’s approach to mark-making comes across as stream of consciousness, as if she’s engaged in a conversation with herself.
Starting Monday, readers can borrow one of 50 rare and out-of-print titles, mailed to them completely free of charge, from Saint Heron Library.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
This is Yuskavage’s great gift, turning upside down our settled ways of thinking and seeing and, with ease, transforming the vulgar and ridiculous into the sublime.
51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
While hardly about the pandemic, or any of the other crises so afflicting us, all are invoked in this exhibition, which is also often tender and profoundly soulful.
These glowing, dynamic artworks reproduce something of Bosch’s chaotic energy, but on an immersive, multi-sensory scale.
This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.