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A common question that I am asked is: “What inspires you as an artist?”
While I have several sources of inspiration one of the most significant and driving forces for my work are the organized communities and organizations who are deeply committed to social justice in the short and long term. One of the organization’s here in the Bay Area whose actions consistently fuel my work is POWER. Jesus and I are supporters of their work and fans of the community leaders whose development the organization supports.
POWER is an organization that unites working class families, youth and tenants to achieve economic, racial and gender justice through organization and empowerment. POWER's mission is to eliminate poverty and oppression by developing the capacity of working class communities of color to play a powerful role in the political processes that impact our lives and the well being of communities.
POWER builds strategic alliances, wages effective community action campaigns with low-wage immigrant Latina women workers and low-income African American families and youth, and develops the leadership skills of their members. POWER’s work changes the conditions and policies that exploit and displace families and communities, by influencing policy to win migrant justice and responsible development that secures living wage employment, job security, affordable housing, and community services
This year POWER’s Women Workers Project has gotten off to a running start – they helped to win a free monthly Fast Passes for 12,000 youth in San Francisco!
Thanks to POWER, Chinese Progressive Association, the MORE Public Transit Coalition, Jamestown Community Center, the SRO Collaborative, Urban Habitat, the San Francisco Youth Commission, the MTA, Supervisor David Campos and more, low-income SFUSD students will ride MUNI free for the remainder of the school year!
POWER’s leaders have fought steadily since June 2010 for free bus passes for youth riders, who depend on the bus system to get to school and after school programs. While the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) claimed that they couldn’t possibly scrape together the funds for such a program, San Francisco cut the number of yellow school buses in half, making even more young students dependent on the bus system. At the same time, the MTA couldn’t seem to get around to implementing the Lifeline program, which promised to reduce the cost of monthly transit passes for low-income youth from $20 to $10.
As $1.4 million dollars allocated for the Lifeline program sat untouched, many parents found themselves in the same difficult position as POWER leader Tere Molina:
“Sometimes I have to choose to either buy food or buy Fast Passes for my children so they can get to school.”
POWER leaders used community actions, negotiations with the MTA and meetings with allies on the SF Board of Supervisors such as David Campos to get the Lifeline program into the hands of low-income young people before June 2011, when the funds would be lost as the new fiscal year begins. Last week, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution supporting demands for 12,000 Fast Passes for youth from April–June 2011! The Supervisors also made a commitment to work with DCYF (Department of Children, Youth, and Families) to provide the reduced-cost bus passes throughout the 2011–2012 school year.
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The people of Georgia are facing a flurry of regressive policies and an ever increasing anti-immigrant and racist climate. An organizer who follows Dignidad Rebelde sent me a message asking me if I could create a political graphic to help support some of the organizing students and community based organizations are engaging in.She knew HB 87 and HB 59 would be hitting the floor soon and was hoping we could aide in their efforts to mobilize and raise awareness about the issues. HB 87 is Georgia's version of SB 1070 so I repurposed a graphic I had originally designed for Arizona.Check it out HERE
The second graphic I designed to address HB-59. HB-59 would ban undocumented high school graduates from attending all 35 public universities and colleges in Georgia.
The bill, introduced in the Georgia legislature, would require all public universities and colleges to check the citizenship status of all applicants, costing the state millions of dollars in the process.
For this graphic the process was a bit different. Jesus and I make a number of black and white illustrations available for download and use under Creative Commons licensing. You can view the gallery HERE
While checking out the pages of a few organizers in Georgia I came across a graphic that had already been repurposed. The vision and message were there so I decided to take direction from that image and create the graphic I have included above.
Original Illustration Repurposed illustration with slogan
Organizers are currently working toward a mobilization that will happen on Tuesday, March 8th, 7:30am - 7:00pm. I am including information about the action below:
In early 2001 I started working at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, i was responsible for making flyers, brochures and posters. It was the best job ever, most important it helped me discover the art of screen printing. I started designing posters for the Center's exhibits and once I was comfortable with the medium, I started printing my first pieces. I really liked the idea of making portraits of important historical figures, people who I did not think were widely recognized and whose history was not known by many in my Generation.
Making this image of Ricardo Flores Magon was a way for me to pay tribute for all that he did for the Mexican Revolution and all the writings he left behind. I had first learned of him in my Spanish class in high school, Mr. Navarrez was from the Chican@ Movement and his politics always came through in his class lessons. In a video we watched in class I learned how Ricardo and his brother Enrique published a news paper called Regeneracion and he supported the Revolution not as a soldier, but an intellectual and this is exactly why he was such a threat. I later learned that he also worked with the Wobblies. He was captured by the US who labeled him and the people he was with as Bandits. He died under suspicious circumstances, some say he died of natural causes, other say he was murdered by the prison guards. He left a huge legacy in his writings, I was really honored to have this image used by AK Press for the cover of "Dreams of Freedom: A Ricardo Flores Reader", the first English translations of his work.
I made two editions of this image, the first was so small, maybe 20 prints made. At the time I didn't have a lot of money to buy large amounts of paper, most of the early editions I made were about 15-30 prints. I made a second printing as part of a calendar project back in 2005, I saved myself a few sets and then cut down to just keep portrait. I recently found these and wanted to put them for sale because so many people have asked me over the years if I would make the Magon image available again.
To buy one click here: Magon
Today HB87 passeds out of the Georgia House of Representatives 113-56. The multi-state plan conceived of by the far-right group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is well underway with bills similiar to Arizona's anti-immigrant, anti-human right SB 1070. If you would like to read more about how these bills are not merely "copy cat" actions but a strategy that has been in the works for some time now I recommend reading the well researched blog posts by the Applied Research Center's Seth Wessler and Katrina Hurtado. They have kept mapping the bills and laws as they pop up in more and more states.
If you are in one of these states and would like to have this graphic adapted to apply to your state please send an email to Melanie HERE
This is a poster we want to share, please feel free to download and print your own copy.
Click here to download: Solidarity with workers the workers in Wisconsin
Over the past couple weeks I have been hearing about the Workers in Wisconsin who are fighting to stop the passage of AB11, a bill that would strip workers of collective bargaining and cuts to other things like their pensions and health benefits. In the crazy economy we are living through, we see the response by government to cuts to social services, we see the tuition hikes in our public universities. And we look around and see that the rich are still getting richer and paying less and less taxes. While this is happening we see working people under attack for being greedy and demanding too much in these hard economic times, a perfect time to attack workers and take away what has been won by the Labor Movement. The worst is seeing attacks on Unions by idiots who call their members unamerican, hearing people on the radio call the protestors thugs. Hearing the Governor of Wisconsin who was recorded on a telephone call with a blogger pretending to be one of the Koch Brothers talking about how he has contemplated sending agent provocateurs to undermine protestors efforts. This was what really pushed me to make a solidarity poster, I think that in these though economic times we need to support workers when they demand fair treatment so they can survive these times.
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