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No se mata la verdad matando periodistas

August 3, 2012

Those of us north of the US-Mexico border constantly lament the quality of American mainstream media. Whether its the representations of people of color, the coverage of Mexico, drug trafficking, or the absence of significant social and political movements (in the US and Mexico). Academics, journalist, activist and bloggers seek to not only to correct misrepresentations, but shift the debate. We often forget that just south of the US-Mexico border journalist are doing similar work, but in a completely different context. Nuestra Aperente Rendicion is putting together a book to honor the journalist who have murdered or gone missing since July 2000. Please consider donating and spreading the word.




Update/Final Call for Black, Brown, and Blue at CU

April 23, 2012

Author: James T. Roane

The politics of this event is to have folks talking about race, space, and place at CU and NYC in ways and at times that they might not otherwise. People of color, so crunched in the physical plant of Manhattan and NYC, desperately need shared spaces and moments of simultaneity. As the history of slavery in the Western Hemisphere teaches, people need both to organize revolutions. Stealing away in the interstitial spaces, the swamps and woods  and importantly using local knowledge that the land’s indigenous inhabitants taught, black people organized revolutions in a scale from individual maroons, to whole maroon states, and to successful total revolution in Haiti. It is in this radical tradition of reorganizing space to reorganize time that we convene on Friday. Please join us at 4pm in front of Hamilton Hall.

In the spirit of collaboration and our effort to open up space for people of color we encourage you to send us a poem, rant, some words, a photo project, a twitter or FB status, etc. We’ve received a dope facebook status from Law School students, documentation of radicalism at Columbia from doctoral students/radical organizers at UCSD, an amazing photo project juxtaposing people of color with Columbia’s founding fathers (white, elite, males),  a photo project on racial profiling, and security alerts from the perspective of black and brown bodies. Send contributions to to and

Security Alert: Profiling and Homicide

April 18, 2012

Brown, Black, and Blue at CU & Security Alerts

April 17, 2012

If you are graduate student, undergrad, or Columbia University staff you periodically receive emails from the Department of Public Safety. These emails are addressed to the Columbia community and contain pdf documents titled “Security Alert: (insert crime here)”. The victims are always folks from columbia, (students mainly) and the suspects are always our black and brown neighbors who reside along the north, west, and south of Columbia. Interestingly, crimes committed by Columbia students (remember the frat students who were dealing cocaine) or faculty (the political scientist who was sleeping with his daughter) are never reported. The message seems pretty clear the danger lies outside the University, the criminals are there, we are here.

Below is  sample Security Alert issued by Columbia Universities Department of Public Safety

Folks working on Brown, Black and Blue at CU got together and decided to write our own Security Alerts, but from the perspective of black and brown folk at Columbia and our Harlem neighbors (see below). We invite you to create your own Security Alerts and email them to

FLYER for Black, Brown, and Blue at CU. [designed by Michael Sulik]

April 13, 2012

Call for Brown, Black, and Blue at CU: Toward an Archive and Beyond a Gallery

April 11, 2012

                 Brown, Black, and Blue at CU: Toward an Archive and Beyond a Gallery

Critical Approaches to Race and Ethnicity, the African Diaspora Literary Society, the Graduate Students of Color in the History department invite you to explore race and place at Columbia University through our exhibit Brown, Black, and Blue at CU: Towards an Archive. One of the projects in the exhibit, explores the intersections of gallery, archive, and people of color. The curators invite fellow graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, and community members to contribute by sharing with us your experience as a person of color at Columbia and NYC. Our event will be held outside of Hamilton Hall on Friday April 27th, 2012, time at 4pm Please send us:

          photo projects

            twitter and facebook status

            a rant

            a letter addressed to a faculty, dean, fellow student, etc


            primary sources from earlier periods

           contributions can be anonymous


Read during the exhibit: spoken word, poem, experience, historical speech

Everything we receive will be placed in an archive box, inviting gallery visitors to carefully (or casually) explore and contemplate being Black, Brown, and Blue at CU. Contributions can be emailed to,, or left in Romeo Guzman or James T. Roane’s mailbox on the 6th floor of Fayerweather. For a sample contribution click here. To check out one of the art pieces keep scrolling down….



                                                    An Evening Stroll in Morningside

Operating under “Stop and Frisk,” the cops have the right to stop, search, and bother anyone they deem suspicious. In 2010, the NYP Blue stopped and frisked approximately 600,000 people. 85 percent of those stopped were Black and Brown bodies. But don’t fret, they have a keen eye for these things: of the 600,000 people who were stopped an outstanding 2 percent were in possession of drugs or weapons….

SEMAP members Christopher Anthony Velasco and Romeo Guzmán decided to document one of the most routine and mundane aspects of life: an evening stroll. Shifting our attention away from the fall leaves, the clean pristine buildings, evening joggers, and rushed pedestrians, Velasco and Guzmán highlight a small, but essential characteristic of Columbia Universities’ architecture. Closed upon itself, not a single building faces the public and a security guard monitors each entrance. Walking along Amsterdam and Broadway between 116th and 120th, one finds 4 large, remote control cameras and approximately 25 smaller ones. An Evening Stroll in Morningside implicates Columbia University in racist and oppressive policies towards its black and brown Harlem neighbors.

A Better Life (with Academy Award Nominee Demián Bichir)

February 26, 2012

by Carribean Fragoza, [originally published in Letras Libres, in Spanish]

This story doesn’t need much to build up the anticipation and tension. No full speed trains with ticking bombs, no fight against erupting volcanoes or invading other-wordly creatures. The daily realities of the lives of undocumented immigrants and their families suffices for a harrowing experience. Life as they know it contains the most frightening elements of all. The possibility of being indefinitely torn away from the people that love and protect you.

A Better Life is a story that follows the daily struggle of Carlos Galindo (Academy Award Nominee, Demián Bichir) an undocumented immigrant living and working as a gardener in Los Angeles, to provide for his teenage son Luis (José Julián). Finally, Carlos has the opportunity to purchase his own gardening business, including truck, tools and even clientele so that the dream of a better life finally seems attainable. As a self-employed gardener, he’d earn enough money to pay for a lawyer to help him legalize his status. And most importantly, he and his son would be able to move into a nicer neighborhood with better schools. But when the truck is stolen, their dreams seem shot and what little they’d gained with so much effort was instantly gone. The story follows the father and son in their journey through the city to find and reclaim their truck and their dreams.

The heart of the film is in the fragile relationship between a father and his adolescent son in the face of the constant threat of deportation and permanent separation. The relationship seems to hold by the thread of the father and son’s need for one another as they precariously build stronger bonds of trust while navigating many dangers of the city during their quest.

This fragile father/son relationship and each of the characters’ vulnerability to each other is the core of this gut-wrenching and heartbreaking narrative. Their struggle requires them to take tremendous personal risks for one another. The moral climax of the film takes place as they reach what seems to be the near end of their journey and must wait for the right moment to take action. In waiting, they decide to spend an afternoon at the nearby rodeo and even manage to have fun in a respite from the mounting tension of their pending business. It is in this brief moment of ease that the son finds an opportunity for disarming honesty. In a moment of genuine inquiry that borders on reproach, he asks his father, Why do poor people keep having kids? What’s the point? The father, caught off guard by the pointed question, is incapable of answering. His breaking heart plays out unmistakably on his rugged face.

The film seems to approach another deeper underlying question: is the separation of families in the deportation of a single or both parents a human rights issue?

According to Kate Jastram ‘s study on family unity and immigration law, the  “right to family unity is not expressed as such in international treaties” and is a more complex composite of  “several interlocking rights”. Among these is the right to weigh family relationships in deportation proceedings. However, in many cases, immigration judges do not necessarily take family ties into account. A study by the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women and Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program found that “No formal policies or mechanisms exist to address these cases.”

Family separation not only often puts the lives of the deported persons at serious risk, but also the wellbeing and safety of the children and spouses left behind. It is not uncommon for parents to simply “disappear” indefinitely into the immigration detention system without their children knowing. In addition, children are absorbed into the child welfare system and put under foster care.

In A Better Life, the son’s question reveals the depth of the emotional and psychological consequences suffered by children of undocumented parents.  It’s also a question for you, the audience. This moment in the film compounds the characters and the audience, the moral and political. The weight of an audience’s answer to this question is felt in such a way that allows us (the audience) to know that in the smaller and larger scope of things, our judgment does actually matter.