This week, Colin and I turned the microphones over to two of my PhD students Andrea Alarcon and Rogelio Lopez, both members of our Civic Paths research group. The Civic Imagination Project was invited to run a workshop at the Define American Film Festival in Chicago. You can read Lopez’s report of that workshop here. And we asked them to see if they could collect some of the perspectives from key players in the movement for the rights of Undocumented people while they were at the event, leaving it up to them to decide who to interview and what questions to explore. We hit the jackpot! This week’s episode features two interviews — with spoken word poet Yosimar Reyes and organizer Erika Andiola. Both shared perspectives from the trenches about the struggles they face in Trump’s America, the anti-immigrant narratives they confront, the ways they use any media necessary to confront those stereotypes and myths, and their sense of what tactics work and what fail in their struggles for social justice.
Let me provide a bit more background on the key participants in this week’s episode:
Erika Andiola is the former Press Secretary for Latino Outreach for Bernie 2016 and a former Congressional Staffer for Arizona Congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema. She co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition and started her community organizing experience when she co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. She then served in the National Coordinating Committee and the Board of Directors for the United We Dream Network. You can get a sense of her public voice from this speech that she gave at the 2017 Women’s March on Washington about her mother and her family’s experiences of immigration and their fears for the future of the country.
Yosimar Reyes is a nationally-acclaimed poet, educator, performance artist, and speaker. Born in Guerreo, Mexico, and raised in Eastside San Jose, Reyes explores the themes of migration and sexuality in his work. The Advocate named Reyes one of “13 LGBT Latinos Changing the World” and Remezcla included Reyes on their list of “10 Up And Coming Latinx Poets You Need To Know.” His first collection of poetry, For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly… was self published after a collaboration with the legendary Carlos Santana. His work has also been published in various online journals and books including Mariposas: An Anthology of Queer Modern Latino Poetry (Floricanto Press), Queer in Aztlán: Chicano Male Recollections of Consciousness and Coming Out (Cognella Press), and the forthcoming Joto: An Anthology of Queer Xicano & Chicano Poetry (Kórima Press). Reyes was featured in the Documentary, “2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry.” Reyes currently serves as Artist-in-Residence at the media and culture organization, Define American, the non-profit organization founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas that is dedicated to shifting the conversation surrounding immigration and identity in a changing America.
You can watch the videos below for some examples of his powerful spoken word performances, which explore his intersectional identity as a queer Latinix man.
Andrea Alarcon‘s interests lie in the intersection of ICTD and cultural internet studies, as well as transculturalism and multilingualism on the web. She is particularly interested in the appropriation of social media in developing countries, especially as gateways to the web, and the influence of socioeconomic background and entrenched inequalities on the online experience. She received her MSc degree from the Oxford Internet Institute, and her BSc in online journalism from the University of Florida. She also worked as a Research Assistant with Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. Before academia, she worked as a web producer and editor for the World Bank, and in social media for Discovery Channel in Latin America. She currently writes about digital culture for Colombian mainstream media. She is a research assistant on the Civic Imagination Project and a producer for How Do You Like It So Far?
Rogelio Lopez’s work focuses on the role of emerging media and tech in social movements, activism, civic engagement, and youth culture. He completed his M.S. in Comparative Media Studies & Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013. His M.S. thesis compared the media strategies of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the 1960s and Undocumented Immigrant Youth Movements in the 2000s. Prior to USC, Rogelio worked with MIT’s Center for Civic Media, Youth and Media at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College. Current projects include a mixed methods analysis of social media use in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and a computational analysis of Net Neutrality activism online. He serves as a research assistant for the Civic Imagination Project. Rogelio and I are currently co-authoring an essay about Emma Gonzalez’s jacket and the March for Our Lives.