Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Archive for the ‘immigration’ Category

Internalized Racism

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A week ago, that is the last week of pandemic June 2020, my nearly 12 year old and I biked to Clinton Hill to visit a buddy of his.  The friend’s block in Clinton Hill was having a “stoop day.”  We arrived at the brownstone where his friend lives in Clinton Hill on the edge of Bed-Stuy around 1pm and the next door neighbors had their stoop party rolling.  

The next door neighbors are Black and they were sitting at the bottom of the stoop behind a gate drinking and talking while one man worked the grill.  Parked adjacent to the next door brownstone was a large white SUV with the passenger door open and music playing; it was the sound system for the stoop.  A Brooklyn summer Saturday block party was just getting started. 

My son’s friend and younger brother were outside, and greeted us.  The mom stepped out, we had never met so after brief introductions, I offered to escort the boys to the Christopher “Biggie” Wallace Basketball Courts around the corner.  Between COVID-19 and expected rain, the courts and playground were empty.  The kids threw around a football, kicked a soccer ball and we headed back to their stoop.

The mother invited us to hang out on their stoop.  I took a seat and we chatted as I watched the next door party grow.  With each new arrival, a small explosion of laughter and cheer – a young man with a bottle of Hennessy and plastic cups, a middle-aged woman with beer in hand… it was a multi-generational gathering.  At an apartment building across the street people were setting up tables with food.  I could see that rain was coming, so we didn’t stay long.

On our bike ride back, as my son and I rode next to one another in Prospect Park, he mentioned that his friend (who is White) had said that “those people party all day long.”  He said it in a judgmental manner.  I told him that it’s Saturday and many people work Monday through Friday, so Saturday is a day to party and enjoy family and friends.  I told him that it’s a good thing as I tried to dismiss the judgmental tone.

This immediately made me consider the difference between Black and Latino cultures versus White, particularly WASP culture.  I assume that my son’s judgmental tone was picked up from his friend.  I recalled 15 years back seeing the summer weekend stoop parties along Vanderbilt and reading the stories of the gentrifiers calling the police to shut down those stoop parties as they loudly rolled into the evening.  Now there are no stoop parties along Vanderbilt and nearly no Black people.

Then I thought about my own family in Nicaragua.  On Sundays (or Saturdays), my cousins regularly head over to their parent’s homes with their families and their drink of choice – one cousin adopted Titos a few years ago, others stick to Flor de Caña and uncles tend to elect whiskey or vodka.  The weekend is commonly to gather and enjoy family.  The kids play while the adults talk, drink and listen to music and everyone feasts on carne asada or pollo asado, tortilla, chicharron, tostones…  At the larger family gatherings, it doesn’t always end well, occasionally simmering disagreements explode, words are said, but soon enough everyone will gather again.

When I was very young, my own parents would sometimes throw weekend parties.  It wasn’t every weekend as we did not have much family around, but every few weeks and it was more friends than family.  As I grew older, those parties ended.  My dad worked whenever he could.  If someone called in sick, he’d cover.  He was a BART maintenance employee for 27 years.  There were periods when he’d take a second job or try to run his own janitorial company or even drive to the airport and try to pick up passengers.  It seems to me that when he was younger he enjoyed life a lot more and as he grew older he became more obsessed with amassing money.  Perhaps it was having a family or making sure that all bills were paid off or being comfortable when he retired or he just had a lot of energy and with a family – why not use that energy for financial security…  Whichever it was, my parents were immigrants that adapted to US life and culture, one in which work, not having debt and amassing money is central.  (At least for poor immigrants, commonly, not living with debt is a goal.) However, in the US there are many cultures and amongst them Black and Latino cultures are more likely to maintain the importance of weekend socializing, drinking, music and partying.  Whereas WASP culture is more likely to embrace isolation, the Weekend Edition of the New York Times, reading a novel, exercising in the park, silence and contemplation. And mixed in this is a bit of work – checking emails, checking bank accounts, perhaps moving a bit of money… They are not likely to tolerate loud music and regular weekend parties.

All this said, the reason behind this reflection is my disconcert at my son’s judgmental tone at the idea of people partying all day long and underlying that judgmental tone is a trace of racism. I present two radically different measures of the value of life. One is based on productivity whereas the other on joy. One may find joy through accomplishment, the other finds joy in joy itself. One has a puritanical and protestant root with a moral basis whereas the other has “savage” root with a hedonistic basis. However, the savage hedonism has been tamed or civilized, because it is only after a week of hard work that the pursuit of pleasure for the sake of pleasure is enjoyed. And in writing this, I display my own implicit racism.

Written by ricardo

July 3rd, 2020 at 7:23 am

Trump Chases Out Kids

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Following travel, Iggy had a week off from summer camps, so we got to enjoy the week together. I proposed that we make an animation. He was game. I gave him a drawing pad, showed him Richard Williams’s The Animator’s Survival Kit and he started drawing. After a few minutes, I look over at the drawing pad and say “That looks like Trump! Are you drawing Trump?” Iggy: “Yes, a naked Trump. Lets make an animation of naked Trump chasing immigrants…”

Over the following few days, Iggy drew each of the characters: Trump, a female immigrant, a male immigrant and lastly decided to add ICE police. Iggy was firm on having the ICE police shuffle along. He drew each of the steps of the run cycles for each of the characters and I did the coloring. With the art work done, I took over setting up the timeline with tweens and finding various backgrounds to reflect the United States. Iggy made the call on the background sequencing.

I had two audio clips of Trump flip flopping on treatment of undocumented kids to give the animation a soundtrack. Lastly, I found a sound clip of Homer taking a fall which seemed like a fitting culmination.

Written by ricardo

July 22nd, 2018 at 9:20 am

Trump Administration Is The Hangman

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Watching this 1964 animation by Les Goldman and Paul Julian of the 1951 poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden, I couldn’t help to think about the current sweep of undocumented immigrants by federal agents. Most recently 98 7-Elevens stores across the country were raided by ICE leading to 21 arrests. With 21 arrests, I have to wonder if such an effort is worth time and cost. It actually seems a bit silly, but now I’m getting off point. These are 21 individuals working, residing and paying taxes in the United States who now face deportation. I understand that the goal is to instill fear in businesses that hire undocumented immigrants, but at this time the economy is such that these workers are actually needed regardless of their citizen/resident status. More importantly undocumented immigrants are not criminal in the sense of presenting any danger. In a country built by immigrants, they are asset.

As citizens of the United States, it is our responsibility to stand up against human harassment and bullying, against the destruction of others’ lives by the authorities. Otherwise, this administration and government will turn against its own citizenry, actually, I already feel that it has through the passing of the new tax reform.

We can all act on a personal level as there are many resources to help immigrants. If you know an undocumented immigrant pass along this information – Know Your Rights In Case of Immigration/Police Raid. The source is The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Written by ricardo

January 11th, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program Opportunity

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Call for Applicants:
Deadline: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
A vital component of our Immigrant Artist Program (IAP), the Mentoring Program pairs immigrant artists working in all disciplines with artist mentors who provide one-on-one support, guiding participants to achieve specific goals to sustain one’s art practice, while navigating different cultural perspectives in the NYC art world and beyond. The Mentoring Program aims to foster a community, providing opportunities to connect with other immigrant artists through group meetings, peer learning, and informal gatherings. For more information and to apply, click here.

Call for Mentors:
Deadline: Monday, May 9, 2016
We are also looking for mentors for this year’s program, which is open to past Mentors and Mentees (for at least three years). Many mentors express how rewarding and valuable the experience is, with collaborations and exhibitions coming out of the program. NYFA appreciates having IAP alumni participate as you understand the benefits that this experience offers.

To Apply: Please fill out this brief questionnaire.

Been a mentor several times and want to support the program in others ways? Respond to this email with your availability given the dates below.

Mentor Expectations:
Review applications to identify 3 potential mentees
Attend the Mentor Meeting: Introductions/Expectations/Guidance/Questions on Tuesday, May 31, 6:00 – 7:30PM
Meet with your mentee individually for at least six hours
Attend at least 3 of the 4 Group Meetings as listed:
Meet the Mentors: Tuesday, June 21, 5:30 – 8:00PM
Alumni Mixer: Tuesday, July 14, 5:30 – 8:00PM
Check In: Tuesday, September 1, 5:30 – 8:00PM
Final Celebration: Tuesday, September 20, 5:30 – 8:00PM

NYFA provides a stipend of $500 (provided in two installments of $250) to support your time invested in the program. We’ll reach out to confirm participation as a mentor shortly after the deadline of May 9. If you apply, please hold the dates of the meetings until confirmation.

Written by ricardo

May 4th, 2016 at 8:19 am

Posted in art and activism,immigration

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Interview with Migrant Activists

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In 2012, as I worked on an installation for the New York Hall of Science titled “a geography of being | una geografia de ser,” I enlisted the help of undocumented immigrant activists Cesar and Vishal. I asked them to help me conceptualize a video game that would portray some of the experiences commonly felt by immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. We met a few times over food and had extended discussions. I found some of their experiences and observations so enlightening that I have been meaning to post excerpts from the interviews that others may find helpful and insightful.

Below is one excerpt concerning day to day fears that they have lived with; fears that have been confronted by becoming activists and making their status public.

Other topics include assimlation/de-assimilation, going to college, romantic and familial love. Listen to all the interviews here.

Written by ricardo

February 4th, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Today – April 10th Immigration Reform March on Washington DC

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I can’t be at today’s March for Full Citizenship, Rights for All Immigrants in Washington DC. However after receiving an email from Dream Activists, I took virtual and phone action. If you wish to be heard today as others march go to the Dream Activist’s page and form to help Everilda and keep her from deportation an action that could result in her death. Read her story below:

Everilda has been living in the U.S. since 1998; she was placed into deportation proceedings in 2005 after she went to the border to pick up her 8 and 10 year old kids. Everilda’s family fled Guatemala after Everilda’s sister, father and three nephews were assassinated by a gunman. They were all out-spoken activist and because of that they were killed. If deported, Everilda’s life has already been threatened and she will most likely be killed.

Because of our broken immigration system people like Everilda are being deported left and right. Let’s put a stop to that. Let’s bring Everilda home and show that we are serious in demanding reform.

And if you have time to make a phone call to ICE Director John Morton 202-732-3000 use this sample script:
“I am calling to ask for the immediate release of Everilda Sanchez (A#200-070-769), currently being held at the Calhoun County Jail in Michigan. In 2005 Everilda’s sister, an activist in Guatemala, was murdered. In 2011 Everilda’s son was deported and targeted by the same people who killed her sister. If deported Everilda will be killed. Grant discretion; let her stay!”

Written by ricardo

April 10th, 2013 at 9:40 am

“a geography of being : una geografia de ser” at NY Hall of Science

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The installation “a geography of being : una geografia de ser” that consists of a video game and networked kinetic wooden figures revolves around the immigrant experience. The installation is on view as part of ReGeneration at the New York Hall of Science through January 13th, 2013.

A Discussion Surrounding Immigrant Education and the Right to College

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In the article that follows, blogger Rachel Higgins provides an objective analysis of an often polarizing topic: the hotly debated DREAM Act and what rights, if any, illegal immigrants should have when it comes to securing federal money for college. Structural Patterns has looked at many of the issues art students face when choosing a school, but has rarely touched on the politics of that choice. As Rachel explains, how these issues are resolved may have long-lasting impacts on both students and programs. Rachel often writes about pressing issues in education, though she spends the bulk of her time editing a website for students interested in earning a quality degree on the Internet.

A Discussion Surrounding Immigrant Education and the Right to College

Illegal immigration to the United States has been a long-standing issue in this country – but in recent years, the DREAM Act has polarized the topic even further. Proponents of the bill have lauded its creators for implementing a system by which undocumented aliens can receive an education and contribute to the national economy, while detractors argue that individuals who enter the country illegally have no right to the same privileges afforded to legal citizens.

Introduced in 2001 by Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act provides citizenship to illegal immigrants who entered the United States as minors, completed their high school education, and lived in-country at least five years before the bill was adopted. The conditional residency is extended to six years if the citizen either serves two or more years in the U.S. military or completes at least half of a four-year college degree program. Since he took office in 2008, President Obama has been an active supporter of the bill’s provisions. His latest measure came in June 2012, when he sidestepped Congress to defer deportation of undocumented citizens who met the necessary criteria.

As President Obama and his Republican rivals have argued over the DREAM Act, state-level support for illegal immigrants who wish to earn a college degree remains stagnant. While California successfully passed an initiative last year to allocate a set amount of financial aid to undocumented alien youths, other states have been forced to take alternative routes. In New York, for instance, initiatives to provide financial aid to undocumented citizens who wish to attend college have stalled. This has led several advocacy groups to create the state’s first scholarship program for illegal aliens; thanks to heavy contributions from a number of private donors and non-profit organizations (most notably the Fund for Public Advocacy), a handful of undergraduates in New York City’s university system will receive roughly $2,000 per semester. And in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry has supported measures that provide reduced tuition for more than 32,000 undocumented students; however, Perry’s proviso forces beneficiaries to pledge to obtain legal status within three years after graduation, as opposed to the federal act that grants citizenship amnesty. Supporters of illegal immigrant rights touted Perry’s plan, but most of his Republican colleagues argued against it – and the issue may have contributed to Perry losing the Republican primary appointment that instead went to Mitt Romney.

Supporters of the DREAM Act argue that the entire country benefits from measures that ensure education for all citizens, legal and illegal. “[The DREAM Act will] play an important part in the nation’s efforts to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently noted, adding that a higher number of educated citizens will bolster America’s standing within the global economy. The initiative also creates a wider recruitment pool for the U.S. military, and allows the Department of Homeland Security to devote more resources toward the deportation of individuals who actually pose a threat to national security. Finally, a recent study conducted by researchers at UCLA found that complete enactment of the initiative would boost the national economy by as much as $3.6 trillion in taxable income; in its present form, the DREAM Act cuts the federal deficit by $1.4 billion and will increase federal revenue by as much as $2.3 billion over the next decade.

But as John Hudson of The Atlantic Wire recently wrote, the DREAM Act has endured a large amount of opposition from conservative politicos. John Frum of The Week characterized the bill as a “deceptive piece of legislation with very sinister consequences” intended to mobilize Latino voters without producing the results they collectively desire; he also noted that the act essentially encourages immigrants to enter the country illegally on behalf of their children, who would face little to no penalties for their parents’ illicit actions. Mark Krikorian of National Review also referenced the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, by which a quarter of the beneficiaries were awarded amnesty under fraudulent pretenses. One such beneficiary, Mahmud Abouhalima, later masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing. And Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies noted that the DREAM Act is inherently expensive; if each immigrant received $6,000 per year in tuition subsidies, he argued, then the measure would cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $6.2 billion per year.

The latter topic – cost to federal taxpayers – has been a major talking point between supporters and opponents of the DREAM Act, with both sides citing different figures to bolster their claims. But as Rachel Leven recently wrote in Duke University’s Sanford Journal of Public Policy, the budget for U.S. citizenship activities is primarily financed through fees paid by immigrants; deferral applicants each pay $465, and the federal government estimated in August 2012 that the total amount generated from these applications would fall between $467 million and $585 million. Leven also noted that applying for deferral does not guarantee it will be awarded. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Center for American Progress earlier this month found that the 2.1 million beneficiaries under the most recently proposed version of the bill would generate $329 billion for the national economy, while passage of the act would create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030.

Despite Republican opposition claiming the DREAM Act is too expensive to enact in the United States, these studies reveal that the measure could greatly benefit the American economy in the long term. And in the process, millions of minors who were brought to this country illegally through no fault of their own have been granted the opportunity to receive an education and compete in the job market.

Rachel Higgins

Written by ricardo

November 5th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Undocumented Drones at New York Hall of Science

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Last Thursday, October 25th was the celebration for the opening of ReGeneration, an exhibition at the New York Hall of Science in Corona Park, Queens that will be on view through January 13th. I will be writing one or more extended articles regarding the works in the exhibition. Meanwhile, I am posting a video of the Undocumented Drones being installed at the Hall of Science as part of my installation titled “a geography of being : una geografia de ser”. This is an installation comprised of a video game and three wooden figures with screens and motors that are networked to the game. The figures or undocumented drones help the player along through the game at specific points. Each figure has a corresponding icon on the game screen that tells the player that the small robot has a message. If necessary, the player may step away from the game to view the undocumented drone’s embedded screen for instructions.

a geography of being – Title Screen

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This is the title screen for the new game that I’m building. The video game is one component of the installation titled “a geography of being” that will be featured as part of the exhibition ReGeneration at the New York Hall of Science. “a geography of being” is a creative reflection on the realities of undocumented youths in the United States. The exhibition opens on October 27th 2012 and will be on view through January 13th, 2013. Along with the video game, “a geography of being” will feature kinetic wooden sculptures titled “undocumented drones” that are networked to the game to help the player along the three levels of the game.

Written by ricardo

October 2nd, 2012 at 8:59 am