Written by Marco Antonio Flores
“I am grateful for those first moments of consciousness, always born from a living experience of injustice turned to righteous rage, that first experience of genuine collectivism, that blessed epiphany of art-inspired action.”
– Cherrie Moraga, A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness
“Jota, it’s going to be amazing! There are artists from all over the country using art to talk about immigration,” those were the first few words Julio Salgado expressed to me about UndocuNation. I couldn’t believe this kind of courage was possible, I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve never had the courage to speak against injustice.”
I had just met Julio Salgado a few months back, at this point, our friendship had begun to unfold. One thing was clear to me – art kept us centered. It allowed me to see that we are both hermanos, undocujotas en la lucha. But despite this sense of familia I had nurtured with Julio, I was unable to imagine what a cultural event such as this one could look like. And in all honesty, I was consumed by my own fear of deportation. UndocuNation was created at such a pivotal point of the immigration debate that I feared this artistic encuentro would pick up national attention. And like many other moments in my undocumented life, I felt uncertain. “Is this a crime?” I was terrified that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could show up at the doors and take me away.
Enough time has passed since the start of it all at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Today I find myself making phone calls, meeting with funders, and collaborating with various artists in an attempt to bring UndocuNation to the University of California, Berkeley. It would never occur to me that UndocuNation would not only spark creative energies, but also bring together a sense of collective consciousness for our undocumented communities. I’ve come to learn that many of these creative encounters don’t stand-alone; UndocuNation serves as artistic awareness of the many injustices happening across the country shedding light to the different faces of living an undocumented life. UndocuNation has created a space for artistic talent to organize our gente, and shift minds and corazones about the issue. It’s given meaning to policies, and most importantly, it’s given our communities the ability to mobilize by developing their own craft as artists. This celebración has served a vital role in the movement; it’s a tool of transformation. UndocuNation is more than an evening of cultural jamming and an artistic celebration; it is poetic justice.
Today, I return with a vision y con un corazón sano. I return as a lover of words – poetry has served as my medicine. I am learning to hold onto words, nurture and nourish them. I am learning to (re)imagine a better world by creating a path towards consciousness and justicia where making familia de corazón is possible. I am learning to heal with community; this is my resistance.
I believe in the power of art, and the impact it could have on our lives as undocumented immigrants – it’s the ability to make corazón.