Meet Tania Unzueta of "Salud: Healing Through the Arts"
Tania Unzueta is the Director of Youth Training and Community Programming at Radio Arte, and supervises the Radio Novelas part of SALUD.
Tell us what it means to be an immigrant in
the United States.
I came to the U.S. when I was ten years old with my family. I feel that because I grew up living in this country, I have had access to many resources, ideas, and experiences that may not have been as readily available in Mexico, where I was born. At the same time it has meant that I was (and still often am) thinking about how to reconcile this, with my anger towards the aggression of the U.S. government to many other countries, particularly in Latin America and the middle east, and its denial of rights to my immigrant and LGBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer) community. Often, it has also meant being the subject of [vicious] attacks by anti-immigrant legislators and activists, whose views are seen as legitimate by the media and the public. Other times it has meant seeing how the youth that I work with are affected by violent rhetoric and policies.
I also feel that I have been able to find community and to explore my own identity. I have found a community of immigrants who are also fighting for change and human rights, youth who are passionate about their work, a queer (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community who is also understanding of the complexity of multiple identities and oppressions. I have also been able to create my own media, and teach other people how to create their own media, a tool that has proved essensial to my own mental health, and for the expression of voices often silenced.
I think initially I felt that being an immigrant in the US marked me as an outsider. But living here, I think I have figured out that there are many people who feel outsiders in the US – many communities whose rights are denied in society and legislature, and it makes me feel like we can all support each others work. It makes me feel that this is part of what it is like to be living in this country, not as an outsider, but as another person who is experiencing the availability of resources, freedom of speech, oppression, and solidarity.
us about an interesting or wise practice from another culture that
you wish people in the United States would adopt.
Peñas: I think that there is so much that we can learn from one another, but lately I've been thinking about the power of social and political discussion, in combination with music and performance. I am not sure about the origin of this, but there is a tradition of having political discussions and music, and political music performed live during a Peña.
Here in Chicago we try to do that often, and gather musicians from the community with activists and residents, and sing old and new canciones de protesta (protest songs), sometimes with made up lyrics about immigration. I think that sometimes there needs to be more discussion about social topics in the United States, and if it were something that people did as part of their socializing and artistic development, our dialogue as a society about the issues that impact us would be that much richer.
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This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.