I have to admit, I’ve been frustrated with how all sides of the political spectrum talk about immigration. To me, the debate around who’s legal and who’s not has been quite dehumanizing to say the least.

Messages like “legalize,” “we are human,” and “it’s our parents’ fault” not only fail to advance the national narrative on immigration, they also continue an insidious pattern of limiting the agency of migrants and their families.

Too often – even with good intentions – activists focus solely on the problem and external conditions facing our communities, leaving many with a sense that nothing can be done.

Ricardo Levins Morales, a popular cultural worker, reminds us:

“How we think about our world opens up the possibilities for action…The question that I ask myself when working with a community is: What keeps these folks from feeling powerful and acting effectively on that power? Not what external oppressions or conditions are holding people down, but what are the internal impediments? Where can we put the acupuncture needle that’s going to free up the energy and power trapped in a community?”

I thought of Levins Morales’ approach when I saw Julio Salgado’s posters popping up on my Facebook page and on Colorlines.

While he brings up some of the problems faced by communities, Salgado’s art is about making his community visible and unleashing the power of migrants.


As artists working for social change have said for quite some time, art is as much about power as it is about the craft.

And as always, click the “like” button above and share with your friends if you feel this powerful art!


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