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Fronteras: ‘We are resilient people’ — Border Narratives Project aims to shift the perspective on binational communities

Immigration remains at the forefront of U.S. politics and issues.

Americans named immigration as the number one problem facing the U.S. in a recent Gallup poll.

Anti-immigrant rhetoric continues to be used by far-right politicians and can be directly tied to acts of violence, including the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.

Creatives across the country are fighting back against one-dimensional narratives of the border by writing their own.

The Reclaiming Border Narratives Project was created in 2020 in a partnership between the Ford Foundation, the Center for Cultural Power, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the National Association of Latino Arts & Culture (NALAC).

The project recently launched its new cohort of grantees, who use the funding and their platforms to highlight their own perspectives of the border through photography, music, poetry, and activism.

Sueños Sin Fronteras de Tejas is a grantee and also part of the project’s original cohort. The collective is led by Latinx women of color and works at the intersection of reproductive and immigrant justice.

Co-founder Laura Molinar said the grant has given the organization the ability to create spaces to strengthen self-advocacy in immigrant women.

“We wanted to emphasize that a lot of folks — like undocumented folks (or) low income folks — have never had a choice,” she said. “(We) are asserting the importance that it is people’s human right to choose their reproductive destiny, whether that is to have children or whether that isn’t to have children.”

San Diego-based visual artist Evan Apocada is also a grantee.

His public art installation “Monumental Interventions” speaks against the local military industrial complex and how it impacts the border and border narratives.

“It really looks at militarization, linking struggles in the borderlands to struggles all over the world,” he said. “(It) really brings truths to the analysis of this kind of violence and really speaks (on) things that are not accepted in public spaces.”

Musician Amalia Mondragon is also in the newest cohort. The self-described two-spirit musician has a forthcoming album called Transfronteriz.

Mondragón said it took time to process the grant and how she wanted to use her voice.

“There’s a large part of me that’s very angry, but there’s also a huge part of me that has this responsibility to add dimensionality to the narrative of the border,” she said. “I had to believe my own narrative … and make space for it.”

Listen to one of Mondragó's songs, "Que Calor," below:

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1