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Media Advisory: September 10, 2011
Contact: Andrew Hsiao, andyhsiao [at] gmail.com, 917-365-4064 and James E. Garcia, info [at] newcarpa.org, 623-252-2772
Nationally Acclaimed Writers and Artists to Launch Challenge to Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Measures and Federal Immigration Policies
CultureStrike Coalition Sharply Critical of President Obama – After Widespread Support of Artists and Writers in 2008 Election
Will Meet in Tucson and Phoenix September 10-16
NEW YORK — A delegation of more than 50 acclaimed writers, visual artists, and filmmakers will gather in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona September 10-16 to kick off a major national arts-based campaign challenging punitive, anti-immigrant laws and longstanding federal immigration policies. (See http://wordstrike.net/ for more).
A coalition of artists, CultureStrike, will come together in Arizona–epicenter of the immigration crisis–to launch a national initiative to produce visual, written, video and other works designed to educate the public about the devastating effects of our nation’s current policies toward immigrants, while mobilizing communities to fight against punitive and discriminatory immigration laws nationwide.
CultureStrike strongly opposes state laws like Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070—passed in April 2010 and now spawning copycat legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and elsewhere—and federal immigration programs such as 287G, the Secure Communities program and others, which have resulted in a record-breaking 1 million deportations since President Obama took office–twice the rate of deportations under the Bush Administration.
The CultureStrike delegation is the first national effort to feature artists and writers on immigration in the post-SB 1070 era. Members of CultureStrike plan to spend a week meeting with local artists and grassroots activists to collaborate on new national efforts.
AZ Governor Jan Brewer, State Senate President Russell Pearce, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have built their careers encouraging anti-immigrant hate. The delegation also is deeply critical of President Obama and the U.S. Congress on federal immigration policies that overwhelmingly emphasize detention and deportation over a more humane and just approach to immigration.
“There have been more deportations on President Obama’s watch than at any time in American history. Continuing these massive deportations is a devastating betrayal of the diverse immigrant communities that helped to elect him,” said Andrew Hsiao, a journalist and a founder of CultureStrike. “As writers and artists, we are speaking out against federal programs that tear families apart.”
The sharp criticism of Obama among important artists stands in stark contrast to the powerful, widespread support in the creative community that Obama received in 2008—support that helped elect the nation’s first Black president. Today, however, Obama is facing discontent among artists and other progressives over many crucial issues, including immigration.
Among the delegates are a number of award-winning writers including National Book Award winner Maxine Hong Kingston and National Book Award finalist Jessica Hagedorn, New Yorker Magazine “20 under 40″ writer Daniel Alarcón, a Tony Award winner, two MacArthur Fellows, four American Book Award winners, and a Yale Poetry Prize winner. The group also includes notable visual artists such as Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party; El Mac, prominent street artist and painter; and Tania Bruguera, interdisciplinary artist and 1998 Guggenheim fellow.
“We believe Arizona represents the epicenter in a major civil rights battle of our time,” said Favianna Rodriguez, a visual artist and a founder of CultureStrike. “As artists and writers, we have come together to stand against a growing anti-immigrant climate, enabled by hatemongers like Pearce and Arpaio, as well as Obama’s failed and repressive federal immigration policy.”
Award-winning playwright James E. Garcia, a CultureStrike member in Phoenix, said, “The vast majority of Arizonans are decent and compassionate people. Sadly, however, our state’s legislative agenda on immigration has been hijacked by right-wing extremists callously intent on driving undocumented immigrants out of this community. It’s time we acknowledged that immigrants are vital to our nation’s economic stability and diverse cultural legacy.”
The CultureStrike delegation will travel to Tucson, Phoenix, and Nogales to learn more about the impact of state and federal immigration policies in Arizona and nationwide. Writers and artists will hold public workshops and events in Tucson and develop artistic work inspired by their visit.
PUBLIC EVENTS PLANNED FOR THE WEEK
Saturday, September 10, 7pm:
Laughter Against the Machine (LATM) comedy show
Who: Featuring W. Kamau Bell, Nato Green and Janine Brito
What: LATM will bring a comedic peace-keeping mission to the front lines of American political controversy to find out if comedy can illuminate truth and bring people together.
Where: Phoenix’s Space 55, 636 E. Pierce Street
Cost: Tickets are half price for students, nonprofit workers, union members, and LGBTQ L@tinos. And free for those who have been stopped by the Arizona police.
For more info, go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/190161
Wednesday, September 14, 4-6pm:
CultureStrike Arts Festival:
A series of free public arts workshops followed by a free outdoor festival featuring writers and artists from the CultureStrike delegation.
Highlights include: Readings by novelists Daniel Alarcón and Jessica Hagedorn, cultural historian Jeff Biggers, poet Sherwin Bitsui, playwright James Garcia, San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion James Kass, journalist Roberto Lovato, Tucson spoken word poet Logan Phillips, nonfiction writer Rinku Sen, and other members of the delegation.
Hosted by writer Roberto Bedoya and Asian American Writers’ Workshop Executive Director Ken Chen, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.
For more info go to: http://wordstrike.net
Wednesday, September 14, 7:30pm on:
CultureStrike Presents: The Culture Shift: Words and Art For Migrant Justice and Immigrant Rights
Readers will include novelist Daniel Alarcón, Tucson spoken word poet Logan Phillips, poet Sherwin Bitsui, playwright James Garcia, novelist Jessica Hagedorn, San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion James Kass, nonfiction writer Rinku Sen, and other members of the delegation.
Treat yourself to a fabulous evening of arts and culture at the Mercado San Augustin, a beautiful green-friendly outdoor plaza.
Where: Mercado San Augustin, 100 S. Avenida Del Convento, Tucson
CultureStrike, consisting of ArtStrike and WordStrike, aims to cultivate innovative collaborations between artists, writers, musicians, and other cultural workers and organizers to support communities facing and fighting anti-immigrant repression on the ground.
ArtStrike brings together graphic designers and visual artists, and WordStrike brings together writers—including authors, poets, playwrights and journalists—to engage in the struggle for migrant and human rights with the aims of developing counter-narratives, nurturing writers as witnesses and visionaries, and fostering new models for cultural change. For more, see http://wordstrike.net.