Remembering the Immigration Symposium, UndocuNation

"The Art of Being Brown"
Written and Directed by 
Rosa Lisbeth Navarrete & Samanta Cubias

On February 15, 2013 UndocuNation came to UC Berkeley to shake things up. Thanks to the efforts of the Multicultural Community Center and the Theater, Dance and Performance Studies Department at UC Berkeley, this event was a total success. The UndocuNation movement was initiated by Culture Strike (, and if you haven't heard of them --- check out there site RIGHT NOW. It's a beautiful thing.

Immigration Symposium:
I walked into the Multicultural Community Center during lunch break with my laptop clutched between my arms. I had no idea what to expect, and I had no idea the room would so packed. I felt a little anxious but ready to show our video. The video is the work Samanta Cubias and I have been collaborating on for a couple of weeks. We shot it in seven hours, and I edited it in two evenings after work.

I looked around the room and people were in conversation. The energy was bright. They gleamed as they spoke to one another. Some stared intently at the art pieces displayed against the walls: a Monarch Butterfly and various paintings of resistance. Everything was inspiring.

Samanta and I were happy with the project, but we wondered if there'd be any laughs. Plus, she was at work and I was there alone. I was a nervous wreck. Thankfully, I spotted my amazing scholar friend Heather Rastovac. She sat by me and we watched the show together.   It was great to see and hear our story (strange as it was in certain parts) being received so positively. We got laughs, we got grunts, we got Berkeley beat snaps, and we got a "F*** that!" from a poet (during the scene when the prissy Arizona girl tells her potential date that she needs to see a passport before going out with him).

The Immigration Symposium was a great success. Additionally, I got to stay for the rest of the event, and learned about new studies and papers dedicated to understanding the effects of immigration on a human being. Waves of information towards immigration studies were provided by law and social science professors from various campuses. Professor Kathryn Abrams (UC Berkeley Law) told us about undocumented students who were a positive force during the election season, and a presentation titled Legal Violence Against Immigrants lead by Leisy Abrego (UCLA) and Cecilia Menjivar (Arizona State University) was extremely insightful and emotive.

I still can't believe we presented our video in the midst of all these very important people. Great minds who are laying the ground work for innovative ways to tackle the very difficult issue of immigration, and the effects of it on people. Seeing our video and the discussions that followed only made the messages stronger and poignant. In fact, the entire day kept providing rich information for intellectuals and artists. Information that essentially enhanced the efforts of everyone presenting and listening.

UndocuNation at UC Berkeley ended up being one of the most intense and rewarding experiences I have had this year thus far.

Immigration is a delicate subject, but let's not dismiss it. Behind every human being is a story of survival. We hope you enjoy our film, share it, and spread the word about UndocuNation and Culture Strike.

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