My three-part series about the border appeared in The Baffler.
Listen to me discuss the piece The Brian Lehrer Show/WNYC, the NPR station in NYC here.
Border and the American Imagination was later cited in The Nation and featured in Longreads.
With roots in the Native American genocide and African American slavery, these atrocities are the latest episode in centuries-old racial violence against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, citizens and non-citizens alike. The terrified and weeping children on the border are the latest casualties in a pattern of racial violence that began in the 19th century when whites, who hailed from Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, states where families were split apart at slave markets, arrived in colonial Mexico, the territory now known as Texas. The newcomers, immigrants themselves, labeled Tejanos or Texas Mexicans a racial abomination; the intermingling of Indian, European, and African bloodlines resulting in a human depravity. They branded Mexicans racially inferior, a “mongrel race.”
Part II | Border Theater
The border that concerns me functions in the service of a collective performance of American identity, one where the essential needs of a nation are satisfied. Through the performance of that border, our nation worships (or at least votes for) false heroes and succumbs to the seductions of cruelty. On that border, basic decency and humanity are sacrificed in pursuit of empty promises of valor. The border I refer to is an obsession, a mythology that holds the nation hostage. It is a theater created in the nation’s own violent image\
Part III | Beto at the Border
Jezebel selected Beto at the Border as Best of Political Writing 2018
A decisive vote in an election with national implications will depend on voter turnout in one of the most politically maligned, highly policed, and grossly underfunded regions in the country, where the president has made construction of a border wall a centerpiece of his legacy. Nor is it a coincidence that Trump plans to send thousands of troops to this region ahead of the election; it is a show of force that smacks of a repressive and violent political system, one that for decades held South Texas in a vise grip designed to control and limit Latino political participation.
Image: Jason Arias