America is among the wealthiest countries in the world, yet proportionately we have one of the highest rates of spiritual and material poverty in the first world—and we bear the highest ratio of mass-incarceration of any country in the world today. The direct relationship between poverty, addiction and incarceration continues to be elucidated by endlessly churned out statistics. In the last decade demographics studies unfailingly illuminate Black and Latino, as well as other minorities and people of color as the target low-income communities that fill our prisons. But the less obvious correlation is to our transient migrant population, many of whom end up as detainees or deportees. Legal and illegal immigrants making new or sustaining lives for themselves and their families, facing issues of race and immigration in our cities suburbs and villages, on the streets and in the agricultural areas they help this country monetize — the brown and black, and every shade of melanin-skin in between end up in these statistics.
Patterns of migration, and our fundamental need for hospitality as people who’ve been hunting and gathering, moving cyclically with seasons, (wandering since we emerged on the African continent) contribute to ongoing global tensions as race and immigration meet disgrace and discrimination. Severe problems in America with migrant workers’ conditions, immigration status, detainee and refugee conditions and race relations continue to worsen, despite advances in civil rights over the last 50 years and raised visibility by grass-roots organizations, celebrity embrace of these issues and native peoples’ voices raised through the arts and humanities.
HipHop, StreetArt, and documentary Images, Indigenous music, spoken word, documentary shorts and films housed in Guildworks are disturbing, disruptive, dissatisfying, destructive, despairing. Somehow, perhaps because we are children of immigrants in a country made of and by immigrants (except for Native Americans living truly as indigenous Americans) we manage to maintain a golden thread of hope for the constancy of change in evolution and diversity that remains our rich human heritage – a match in the darkening blight of blood on the leaves, a lifted lamp beside the golden door.