Julia Klug is an activist who has been spearheading a call for justice against pedophile priests in Mexico's Catholic church. A victim herself of abuse as a child she executes her efforts to bring attention to corruption within the Church and in the Mexican government while facing threats from those unsympathetic to her cause.
The latest debate regarding flags, statues, and symbols celebrating key moments in American history got me thinking about the selective appreciation of such emblems and how this dispute continues to underscore the perennial effort to rewrite American history in the image of a perverse few who seek to redefine what it means to be American. Hard to believe that a little before the Charlottesville tragedy, some of us were just about forgetting the heated exchange between Stephen Miller and CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta as they verbally altercated over the historical significance of the poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Miller belittled the poem —“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”— as an addition that followed the statute way after it was placed at what is now known as Liberty Island; hence, Miller argued, the poem is divorced of the statute’s original intent as a beacon of liberty to the world. In fact, the poem was donated by Emma Lazarus and added to the base in 1903 after being used as part of a fundraising campaign for the statute; Lazarus was herself involved in helping refugees flee anti-Semitic pogroms in Europe in the late 1850s.
Though somewhat technically right, Miller’s understanding of what Lady Liberty stands for is farther from the truth than he would care to admit given his history and policy hopes for the nation; Miller, known for his dark nationalist speeches written for President Trump, is among a few white nationalists at the White House —including President Donald Trump— hoping to take back America for whites who perceive themselves as repressed and threatened by people ethnically, morally, and religiously inferior themselves. Historically, America has been down this road before with the likes of the Know Nothing Party in the late 1850s and again in early 20th-century with the rise of eugenics and nativists policies that lead to sterilizations and the 1924 Immigration Act; the latter sought to restrict the flow of immigrants down to white Nordic types. Poor Italians and Irish were at the time viewed as inferior with their Catholic faith representing a moral threat to white, Protestant values.
Miller would serve his intellect well by paying attention to a widely ignored historical fact: that the Statue of Liberty was birthed in the mind of abolitionistÉdouard René de Laboulaye —presidentin the late 1800s of the French Anti-Slavery Society; furthermore, though the statute was gifted to the United States of America in commemoration of its 100th birthday, Labloulaye sought to honor the victory of the Union army in the Civil War and its consequences, which included the emancipation of black slaves --keep in mind those chains at the feet of the statute (see [Black Statue of Liberty - Summary Report - Statue Of Liberty National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)](http://bit.ly/2wKKoZi)).
As Americans, we need to ask ourselves why some of us are still dangerously clinging to a delusional and false historical romanticism involving traitors and immoral slaveholders who sought to keep slavery alive at the expense of a nation that was set on the cornerstone that all men were created equal. Why not seek to remember or rediscover the origins and the meanings of those symbols that unite us as Americans and define the struggle to nurture the values of freedom and liberty we claim to uphold? The Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus' sonnet are a good place to start if we are to query and memorialize those images, and words, that are meant to unite in lieu of picking at unhealed, festering wounds.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
- Emma Lazarus
Readying up for photo at Chapultepec Park, Mexico City.Read More
Alex Coghe, street tog of Mexico City.Read More
Image made during Mexico City's 1985 earthquake ceremony this month.
While on one of my usual Saturday walks in downtown, Mexico City.Read More
I took a long stroll downtown last Saturday with nothing in particular in mind to photograph. Quite frankly, there was a lot more more aimless wondering than actual shooting, but it felt good to simply go with the flow and not burden myself with the obligation to come home with "the shot". I've discovered this allows me to be more aware of what is going on around me while ensuring I don't miss more meaningful moments.
Anyhow, I was walking from a leather shop when I noticed Hugo (on the left) with an instant Polaroid camera pointed across the street. This got me curious so I approached him and his friend Ignacio (to the right) asking what they were up to. Hugo enthusiastically explained that they were visiting from Monterrey to give a photography workshop the following day.
Further into the conversation both Hugo and Ignacio showed me their work on Instagram and Flickr --I was very impressed and inspired. Both are professional photographers with exceptional body of work. Hugo also operates a Lomography embassy store in Monterrey. You can see links to Hugo's work here and Ignacio's work here.
This image made in April of 2013 exemplifies some of the reasons I enjoy street portraiture. Regular candid street shooting involves no connection or involvement with the people being photographed. In a strict sense, it's almost --or well could be-- defined as exploitative, but this is obviously debatable and I won't get into a senseless discussion on the subject here. There are, however, street tog purists who will outright reject any photography that involves posing individuals. The claim is the photography lacks authenticity. I would rather not be called a street photographer if I am to be bound to certain rules that will keep me from enjoying something I do greatly: connecting, understanding, and getting to know others while following my passion for photography
An old acquaintance once told me that having a mustache was one thing, but you also have to know how to wear one. You can say Jaoo here knows how to wear his. I ran into Jaoo last month while strolling in downtown Mexico City.Read More