Shared Spaces by Ana Maria Alvarez produced by Border Arts Corridor. Photo Credit: Ammi Robles.
Latino Traffic Report has learned that the Ford Foundation will partner with Borealis Philanthropy, the Center for Cultural Power, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures to launch Reclaiming the Border Narrative.
Reclaiming the Border Narrative is an effort to penetrate and shape the national attention on migration and the United States-Mexico border by supporting authentic storytelling by affected communities on the cultures and socio-political dynamics that comprise the region. Funding will enable immigrant rights advocates, artists, writers and organizations to work over the next three years to organize and preserve stories reflecting the dignity and truth of border communities, connecting and empowering them to center their own narrative on their terms and in their voices.
“Damaging narratives about border communities have for too long dominated the national attitude towards immigrants. We are proud to support these communities to reclaim their truth, speak their stories, and craft new anthems for America that ring with the dignity, demands, and dreams of border communities,” said Maria Torres-Springer, vice president of U.S. Programs for the Ford Foundation.
Prevailing narratives across administrations have demonized border communities and stoked fear of immigrants, fueling xenophobic policies including a multi-billion dollar border wall and family separation. Through it all, the authentic life stories, voices, and narratives of impacted border communities have been flattened, and the complexities of their cultures, contributions, and experiences have been erased.
The Ford Foundation will provide more than $4.5 million in grants to the partners, who will regrant to:
- Immigrants’ rights organizations working in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas;
- Artists, filmmakers, writers, and journalists who live or work along the border and who lift up the region’s stories and issues; and
- Provide training and technical assistance to those grantees to improve and expand their capacity to use documentation, storytelling, and other forms of creative expression to advance their organizing and advocacy agendas beyond the life of their grants.
Ford will provide additional support to the Southwest Folklife Alliance to document the learning from this initiative. The collective efforts will be compiled into an accessible digital archive to collect, house, and preserve the stories from the border and include contributions of other communities, advocates, and creatives after the project ends.
“The truth that runs through all of our work is that directly affected communities are the essential creative force in the larger arc of social change,” said Amoretta Morris, president of Borealis Philanthropy. “In the aftermath of the last four years of extreme anti-immigrant actions and narratives, we must listen to and center the stories, experiences, and wisdom of border communities who are determining their own futures. Borealis is thrilled to support the advocates helping to uplift the voices we need to hear right now.”
“It’s clear that culture and stories shape national policies about immigration,” said Favianna Rodriguez, cultural strategist and president for the Center for Cultural Power. “For too long, our country’s dominant story has been one of criminalization and dehumanization, which has led to children and families being held in cages. The Center for Cultural Power is honored to build the cultural capacity of artists and pro-migrant organizations to create, amplify and normalize a different kind of culture that’s welcoming to immigrants and can move us away from a punishment economy.”
Maria Torres-Springer, vice president of U.S. Programs for the Ford Foundation, said, “Damaging narratives about border communities have for too long dominated the national attitude towards immigrants. We are proud to support these communities to reclaim their truth, speak their stories, and craft new anthems for America that ring with the dignity, demands, and dreams of border communities.”
“It is a rarity to be among partners whose shared commitment to cultural competence can act as a powerful catalyst for systemic change, beginning with our efforts to amplify the rich and dynamic border stories too often overlooked,” said Alberto B. Mendoza, executive director for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “With this investment, NAHJ and our journalists are part of a veritable opportunity for storytelling that preserves significance and fosters authenticity.”
“The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures has long stood in solidarity with Latinx artists and organizations along the southern border,” said María López De León, president and CEO of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. “We work to uplift the most marginalized voices within our communities because we know that art and culture is our most powerful conduit for transformative change. Using their artistic and cultural practice strategically to advance justice, artists and culture-makers along the southern border will create works that reflect the dignity, resilience, and beauty inherent in border communities and our histories. It is an honor to stand with the Ford Foundation and other partners supporting arts and culture-makers throughout the border region in cultivating collaboration across creative disciplines and borders.”
“Many widely held assumptions and beliefs about the border region and immigration that circulate in U.S. culture and media paint a negative, flat picture of these complex issues,” said Maribel Alvarez, folklorist and ethnographer for the Southwest Folklife Alliance. “To bring about lasting changes in public perceptions and policies, we need to augment the scale and capacity of those close to the ground to get their stories heard and taken seriously. This project is the welcome and urgent first step towards a more democratic and equitable public narrative about some of our country’s hardest working, yet most vulnerable, communities.”
For grant opportunities go to partner sites.