It is amazing to think that almost a whole year has passed since the story of the unaccompanied refugee minors arriving at our doorstep from Central America really hit the mainstream news cycle. For a short while there it seemed that all the media attention would actually get something done, something good. Instead, just a few days ago i read a story about immigrants arriving at the Sacred Heart church in McAllen, Texas wearing ankle braces so as to be tracked. It made me think of animals in the wild when researchers tag them and attach a digital collar to track them and study them. The only difference here is that those wild animals are actually receiving better treatment from the researchers than these folks coming into our country seeking refuge. Now that I think about it, a better analogy is cattle. All that is left for them to be dehumanized completely is to be branded with hot irons right to the forehead, so as to be most visible like some primitive society's punishment to some burglar or armed forces deserter.
The main reason this is happening is not because there is a necesity for measures like these, but because these people are powerless and at the mercy of those processing them like animals that broke a fence and need to be reigned in and kept in check. We are all responsible for those poorly conceived ideas that are not solutions at any level to the issues driving the immigration problem. At issue is primarily a difference that is hardly understood and at times outright rejected by some: immigration and this refugee crisis are not one and the same. The immigration problem must be fixed somehow, that much is true. But the refugee crisis must be acknowledged first, accepted as something that we can address, and engage the issue head-on to try to find some real solutions. The first step is perhaps bringing ourselves back to the reality that these creatures coming from so far away, facing so many dangers and horrors, and leaving their beloved homelands are doing so not by choice but by necesity... and by the way, they are people. The necesity to survive, the necesity to find freedom, lawfulness, and security--that which is absolutely vital for the raising of children and propagation of family and community--is what is lacking in their lands. Who wouldn't head for the sweet land of liberty when facing those conditions? Maybe history can tell us who did and we will know that they, too, did not deserve to be treated like herds of cows run amok.
We are close to finalizing the anthology. I know I have said it before, but the publishing process is twice as difficult when there is no staff to delegate work to and you still have all your "real" work and family commitments to fulfill. The list of contributors to this project is as follows:
(In Non-alphabetical order)
Amalia Leticia Ortiz
Fernando Esteban Flores
Sister Juliana Garcia
Jenny Campos Galvan
Neftali de Leon
Raquel Lopez Suarez
Ana M. Fores Tamayo
Jose G. Cano
Cesar De Leon
We thank you all contributors, donors, and friends for your participation, support, and your continued patience. We are hoping to reveal the final product by late June 2015. Stay tuned...
Something that really intrigues me is art. Art as in painting, representation on a surface with paint of an idea or feeling, or inspiration. I really don't know what it truly is. How does an artist become inspired--possessed--to paint. I saw two painters at this event paint what seemed to me a near complete painting in under 10 minutes while I, along with other poets, painted ideas in the air with our words as we recited poetry. I was amazed. There were two blank canvases behind us and suddenly the artists approached like lionesses upon prey and ripped open the canvases with their paint brushes and images burst out. Truly awe-inspiring.
That was the scene at Hinovations Art Studio in McAllen, Tx on May 1, 2015. It was promoted as the Postcard Art for Hinovations Art Gallery. Artists from around the world sent postcard-sized works to the Hinovations Gallery owned and operated by Raquel Hinojosa. The proceeds from sales of these postcards will go to benefit the gallery's summer art program for youth. Artists as far as Eastern Europe sent in their work to support this important endeavor.
To further spur on the efforts of this worthy cause, Raquel (along with Gaby Rico, a fellow contributing artist at the gallery) set up their canvases in one of the spaces of the gallery where chairs were assembled for the scheduled poetry reading in which participated Rossy Lima, Raquel Lopez, Isaac Chavarria, and yours truly, Gabriel H. Sanchez.
Raquel Hinojosa is a staunch supporter of the arts in all forms. She very frequently opens her gallery to local writers and other art groups to hold events on her grounds if not in the gallery itself. She is a friend to all artists and an important source of the unique art work being produced in the Rio Grande Valley.
Gabriel H. Sanchez is an author, poet, actor, editor, and publisher from the Rio Grande Valley.
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