GHOSTS OF THE RIVER
Study Guide Lesson 6
DVD Feature: Shadow Play
Chapter 6: Special Field Agent Fiona Banks
Immigration Themes: Border Patrol, Coyote, Narcotrafficking, City of Juarez, Immigration Stakeholders study (all perspectives of the immigration debate)
General Themes: Us vs. Them, One person’s struggle is not there’s alone, the role of unlikely friends/ mentors, Compassion
Arts Expression: Exploring Political Art, Creating Art for Social Change
Coyote: A person who smuggles Latin Americans across the US border, typically for a high fee. Coyotes typically have extensive experience in smuggling people and other goods, and they use a variety of techniques to get their clients over the border, ranging from sneaking across the desert to hiding smuggled immigrants in trucks.
Narcotrafficking: The smuggling and distribution of illegal drugs; In many countries worldwide, the illegal drug trade is thought to be directly linked to violent crimes such as murder; this is especially true in third world countries, but is also an issue for many developed countries worldwide. (Wikipedia; Whitehousedrugpolicy.gov)
‘La Migra’: The Mexican term referring to officers of the U.S. Border Patrol who sought to arrest and deport illegal aliens. (farmworkermovement.com/essay/ufw-glossary/)
Protest art: Protest art is a broad term that refers to creative works that concern or are produced by activists and social movements. There are also contemporary and historical works and currents of thought that can be characterized in this way. Social movements produce such works as the signs, banners, posters, and other printed materials used to convey a particular cause or message. Often, such art is used as part of demonstrations or acts of civil disobedience. (Wikipedia)
National and state borders aren’t the only things that keep people from knowing one another’s genuine life experiences. It is impossible to truly ‘walk a mile’ in someone else’s shoes, but art is one tool we can use to help build understanding across differences. This lesson uses the story of the unlikely friendship between Special Field Agent Fiona Banks and the young coyote named Nacho as a way of exploring the power personal human connection can have over conflicting or contentious political barriers.
● “Special Field Agent Fiona Banks” Video of Play
● “Special Field Agent Fiona Banks” Documentary Film Segment
● Computer with Internet
● Digital projector
Post and read aloud the following quote.
“I wanted to present all the issues so that everybody would relate to everyone’s situation. Because in the end, there is no ‘us and them’. They’re all us and we’re all them, and the sooner we start to hold up the mirror to ourselves in this way, the more understanding will arise between us as people, just as people.” – Octavio Solís
Ask students to reflect in writing for 5 minutes on how they understand the meaning behind the quote. What does this quote mean to you?
Share responses to the quote and discuss as a class. If not mentioned during discussion, consider bringing up some of the following interpretations of the quote:
- Despite the cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, political differences that can divide us, people are still people and should be treated equally.
- Sometimes when humans don’t experience something personally, it’s difficult for them to imagine why it might be important to know more about it.
- One person’s struggle is not there’s alone; even if the effects aren’t evident right away, we are all affected by one another’s struggles.
“Special Field Agent Fiona Banks” Video of Play
III. POLITICAL IS PERSONAL
Share with students that many artists and young people have come together to peacefully protest the violence that the narcotraffickers have brought to the city of Juarez, Mexico. In 2010, Christian youth groups in Ciudad Juarez began dressing as angels and bringing messages of love directly to the drug traffickers and killers. Their aim is to save their city and fellow citizens through a message of peace and love in the face of violence and hate.
Project images from the slide show at the link below.
Mexican youth dressed as an “Angel” (scroll down)
And/ or screen this video from Univision that shares more background information on the many ways youth, particularly low income youth, are impacted by the drug war.
Young angels in Juarez battle the city’s demons
Students may also find these 4 contemporary visual artists working in solidarity with the undocumented immigrant community and communities of color living along the US/ Mexico border: Ernesto Yerena, César Maxit, Melanie Cervantes, and Chandra L. Narcia.
http://www.pcasc.net/2011/09/20/4-artists-who-are-reshaping-america%E2%80%99s-immigration-debate/ Consider sharing the historical context of the Mexican Block Prints as Protest of the 1920’s before sharing the contemporary work. Artists like José Guadalupe Posada, José Clemente Orozco, and Rufino Tamayo.
El Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP) – Popular Graphic Arts Workshop is also a great resource. The TGP began in 1937-1938 with a group of established and emerging artists who made a conscious decision to use their art to promote social change.
Learn more about some of the artists, their work, the struggles they were advocating for and get other lesson extension ideas here: http://whp.uoregon.edu/mesoinstitute/wp-content/uploads/2010/mesofiles/PrintProtest.pdf
Invite students to work in small groups and identify one thing in their local community they believe needs to change because it is harmful, because it is harmful to a certain group of people, to the environment, etc.
Once they have identified something, ask them to list ways they might peacefully protest this issue. A few possible ways are as follows:
- Street Performance
- Handing out educational pamphlets
- Putting up posters near the site or location of the injustice
Have student embark on a project of their choice. When work is completed, document the work and share widely with the school community.
In Other News Today/ Additional Resources
Read about Mexican Drug Trafficking (Mexico's Drug War)