Why did you decide to do a book about U.S. immigration and why are you doing a comic?
In the past year I have asked myself this question and have had to answer it. The immigration issue has not effected me directly so why should I care?
The story for "They Call Me Esperanza" started to come to me in June 2014 as I traveled cross-country in a passenger van with my multicultural family to attend my nephew's traditional Navajo wedding. I admired our beautiful country and enjoyed looking at the many natural, human and economic resources we have available as citizens. This country has so much to offer.
We were close to the border of Mexico near El Paso and my brother and I started a conversation about immigration. At the time the "The Surge" of immigrant children was heavily publicized in the news. Political talk about it was everywhere in the media. But as I saw our border, I started reflecting on the tragedy of being faced with a choice to leave your home and travel to another country alone - as a child. I couldn't imagine that for my daughters. I imagined myself as a mother deciding to make that choice for her child and it made me cry.
Over this past year, I wrestled with the idea of what made me qualified to tell this story? I'm not from Central America. I'm not an immigrant. I had a whole list of reasons why I should have backed out. But doing this project took courage and support by those who said it was a story worth telling.
The safe keeping of children in this world is the responsibility of every living adult. We are charged to raise them to be better than we are, to have more, to be the next generation to raise the children. One day they will care for us.
Children all over the world live in fear. Their fears vary depending on the situation, but fear is fear. Unfortunately, it can cause undesired circumstances that are detrimental not only to the individual who experiences it, but also to the society and the world. It's a comfortable idea to believe that because you don't interact with someone directly that they don't matter. But each one of us touches the other.
We are all connected.
The images for the book and the exhibit have been created as sequential art. There are two endings to the story. To drive home the point that these children have no real voice the images are also wordless. Anyone can read the images in the book despite the language they speak. Immigration is a tough subject to discuss, but it is my hope that my use of symbolism in an illustrated story will allow it to be received by both children and adults.
I am excited to see how people will receive the book. But I am even more hopeful that we will continue conversations followed up with action to make positive changes in our society for all of our children.
Fuse Art Center
115 Martin Luther King Drive, Suite 225, Atlanta, GA 30303
OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, July 2, 2015, 5 - 8 p.m.
(Parking available at Underground Parking Garage)