From October 13-14, SIREN joined community organizers and artists in Oakland to meet, strategize, make art, and lead a public creative action with over 100 community members, families, artists and organizers at Glenn Dyer Detention Facility. We worked with and supported CultureStrike - a national pro-migrant arts organization - and Mobilize the Immigrant Vote - a statewide immigrant and refugee rights alliance - as they launched Until We are All Free, an arts-led racial justice project to build solidarity that centers Black lives across movements. Participants gathered to envision a world beyond borders and bars, an alternative to the mass criminalization, incarceration, detention, and deportation of migrants and communities of color. Until We Are All Free is an unprecedented collaboration between migrant and refugee rights organizations, Black-led organizations and leaders, and artists - working across sectors - to inspire the public through art and cultural practice to imagine, and take action toward, a future of universal dignity and self-determination. To date over 70 community organizations and thought leaders including SIREN, Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter co-founder), Angelica Salas (CHIRLA), Ai-jen Poo (National Domestic Workers Alliance), Van Jones (activist), and Jeff Chang (author) have signed on in support of Until We Are All Free as it unfolds.
Below are reflections from organizers and artists who participated in the Until We Are All Free launch:
“For too long suffering and pain is what dominates the news headlines. We are here to lead with stories of power, resilience, and healing. Artists help us imagine a world beyond the injustices that exist right now. Organizers engage everyday people to make the world a reality. This is the magic of our collaboration.” - Zerihoun Yilma, Associate Director, Coalition for Humane and Immigrant Right of Los Angeles
"Immigrant communities cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while a movement for Black lives is transforming the national conversation on the criminal justice system that affects all communities of color. Issues of Black communities are human rights issues that we all must stand for. Immigrants, including Black immigrants and refugees, are the fastest growing population in California. The unjust criminal justice system interacts with our broken immigration system to disproportionately jail, detain, and deport immigrants of color." - Maricela Gutierrez, Executive Director, Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network
“Being in a space full of organizers and artists means that there is a future. Without artist, there will be no long-term resistance, and without organizers, there will be no community solidarity. Using culture to have courageous conversations of anti-blackness, prison, and undocumented migration means that we still have a long way to go, but with art, it won’t have to be such a painful road.”
- Alan Pelaez, Afro-Latino, Queer Undocumented Writer & Designer
“This was an opportunity to create intersectionality with different groups that are fighting to live with a future without bars, and to love, and to hope that our children will continue to love themselves and love their heritage without any sort of hesitation whatsoever. We as artists are visionaries. We are here to createculture and we're here to create something different, something that hasn't been made before - that hasn't existed.” - Breena Nuñez, Central-American Artist & Musician
This project was developed and launched as one response to a long-standing call from Black liberation movements for the immigrant rights movement to show up for Black lives in the midst of the national, post-Ferguson conversation about anti-Black racism, and immigration enforcement high on the docket of political campaigns nationally and internationally. Over 200 Black people have been killed by law enforcement in the last 6 months and 1,100 migrants are deported every day. Participants affirmed that the path to safety and security for our country and our world is not through prisons and deportation. They instead called for a divestment from prisons and investment in building strong communities with education, jobs, housing, healthcare, and access to the arts and outdoors.
CultureStrike is a national organization that empowers artists and social justice movements to dream big, disrupt the status quo, transform public opinion on migration, and envision a truly just world rooted in shared humanity through art. We believe cultural work is key to creating systemic change. www.culturestrike.org
Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) is a statewide multiracial California alliance that advances the broader movement for social change by building the voting power of New American immigrant and refugee communities of color.