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Fronteras: ‘Reclaiming The Border Narrative’ Through Arts And Culture

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Issues at the border have largely focused on illegal immigration.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration in May, which authorized the Republican to request the reallocation of $250 million toward construction of a southern border wall. States have also responded to calls from Abbott by sending their own troops to the Lone Star State to increase security at the border.

Whatever the angle, immigration dominates the politics and the narrative coming out of the southern region. But people who have grown up or lived on the border know there’s more to the region than what’s touted by politicians or what’s printed and broadcast throughout media outlets.

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) is hoping to reframe that narrative through an arts and cultural approach. NALAC along with the Ford Foundation distributed $1.42 million in grants to more than two dozen artists, cultural workers and organizations in Southwestern states and in Mexico.

“The belief that the stories of border communities, including the stories of people that live on both sides of the border — U.S. citizens, immigrants, refugees, indigenous people, asylum seekers — they're all part of our nation's history and present,” explained María López De León, president and CEO of NALAC. “And so we wanted to give voice to these stories.”

Among the 27 grant recipients of the Reclaiming the Border Narrative project are nine Texas-based artists and cultural organizations, according to Jackelin Treviño, grants coordinator with NALAC.

That includes La Mujer Obrera, a group founded by El Paso garment workers that advocates for human and civil rights. The organization’s director, Lorena Andrade, is hopeful the grant will aid their collaborative projects in the border community that promote dignity and justice of marginalized women workers of Mexican heritage.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren