When it comes to activist journalists (as it often does in these parts), they don't get much more relevant than Jose Antonio Vargas. The anniversary of the 31-year old Filipino's revelation that he is an illegal immigrant -- in the New York Times Magazine, after earning a Pulitzer for his team's reporting on the Virginia Tech shooting no less – may have shook President Obama granting administrative relief to DREAM Act-eligible youngsters. Head to La Peña Cultural Center today (Tue/26) to hear him reimagine our country's dialogue on immigration rights.
Did you know that our President coordinates policy decisions with media coverage? Ha! But in this case we're fine with the media blitz. To honor Vargas' self-outing essay, one year later Time Magazine has put illegal immigrant identity -- and the mugs of Vargas and others -- on its cover. It's part of an editorial package that examines a question that shouldn't be that hard to answer, but is: what is an American?
In the midst of this media blitz, Vargas and his Define American project alight upon the East Bay's radical cultural center, along with Time illustrator Julio Salgado, whose sharp illustrations have become associated with the DREAM Act. Salgado's work as a queer, openly undocumented American has helped shift the conversation on the subject of who belongs in this country.
The two will be talking about how important cultural organizing is in the drive for immigration reform as part of La Peña's Immigrant Voices Festival celebrating 37 years of the center in action. The festival is being planned by a core group of young volunteers -- some of whose parents founded the center -- called La Peña's Second Generation.
If you can't make it to the event this afternoon, at least follow Vargas on Twitter, where you'll encounter gems like the one below:
“ARTivism: We Are American”
Tue/26 6-9pm, $5 suggested donation
La Peña Cultural Center
3015 Shattuck, Berk.