The We Are Your Project:
“An Exhibition on Social Justice & Immigration”
Kean University’s The Human Rights Institute presents The We Are You Project, a comprehensive coast-to-coast depiction of 21st Century Latino socio-cultural, political, and economic conditions, reflecting triumphs, achievements, risks and vulnerabilities, confronting and affecting all Latinos “within” as well as “outside” the USA. The five primary themes of this unique exhibit are: 1). Latino immigration, 2). Latinization, 3). the current anti-Latino backlash, 4). the rise of Pan-Latino transculturalism, as well as 5). the investigation of diverse Latino identities emerging at this time.
These five themes, along with their concomitant artistic manifestations, both capture and reflect increasing US Latino demographic-growth, and inevitable North American cultural shifts that will result, characterized by the term Latinization. Moreover, the above five key We Are You Project thematic issues reinforce a “new” transcultural bonding between US-Latinos and Latin Americans. Perceptibly, as the 3rd millennium unfolds, dynamic changes are occurring within the Latino community engendered by generous ground-level barrio support fostering greater camaraderie, whereby Latinos strive and attain success by both individually and collectively reaching for the “American Dream.” Equally significant, along with the inevitable cultural shifts that will emerge with a surging Latino population, there will also be a dramatic influence on the social, political, and economic fabric of the USA and the world.
FROM THE ART SHOW OPENING:
COMING OCTOBER 8
WE ARE YOU POETRY:
“Also, at KEAN’s Human Rights Institute Gallery on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, at 3 P.M., the WE ARE YOU PROJECT will hold an exciting Poetry Reading, focusing on Social Justice and Immigration. This WAYP poetry reading will include the following renowned poets, Alan Britt, Bina Sarkar Ellias, Mike Foldes, George Nelson Preston, and Duda Penteado. This recital is part of a series of free campus events highlighting the issues of social justice and immigration, and centered around We Are You Project’s art exhibition, which will remain on display through January 2016, amalgamating visual art, poetry, music, performance art and film, as a means of exploring the lived experiences of Latinos within and beyond the United States.”
Yet, not that long ago in this country, the segregation of public institutions and blatant and often violent discrimination directed at Latinos and Blacks, was common. Many can still remember signs that read “No Colored or Mexicans Served Here.” Thankfully, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and subsequent federal legislation, put an end to such cruel and odious practices and signs. As a result, today, it is no longer legally or morally permissible to express discrimination towards Latinos or any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.
Unfortunately, a shameful and shocking anti-Latino attitude is undermining the significant civil rights gains of the past decades as well as undermining Latino self-confidence and optimism throughout North America and around the world. Clearly, the noticeable rise in US-Latino population, and commensurate rise of Latino political and economic strength, have generated and fueled this anti-Latino backlash marked by various municipalities and states either pursuing or passing virulent anti-immigrant legislation, encouraging anti-Latino official policies and actions, including the acceleration of costly fence-building projects along the US border with Mexico.
As an antidote to the anti-Latino backlash, The We Are You Project: “An Exhibition on Social Justice & Immigration” asks us to stop, reflect, and never forget that the crucial essence nurturing and fortifying the American experience firmly relies on our courageous capacity to embrace and absorb other cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities; an idea conjointly expressed by the heroic image of the Statue of Liberty and an eloquent poem at its base:
. . . . “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”……
── Emma Lazarus “The New Colossus,” 1883.
For a schedule of events, please see:
This event is scheduled to take place in the Kean Human Rights Center. An opening reception will take place Tuesday, September 15. The Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff, 3:30 p.m., Sponsored by the Office of Student Government. There will be a reception with the artists. A poetry reading is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8, a Guest Lecture & Panel Discussion on October 28 and a film screening on Monday, November 9.
About the author:
Dr. José Manuel Rodeiro, MFA, Ph.D.
Art Critic, Art Historian, & Professor (1993-2015), Art Dept., NJCU, Visual Artist Fellow of The National Endowment for the Arts; Fulbright Scholar, and Cintas Fellow. You can read more about him in About Us.