MTV recently launched a new video series called Beyond the Wall, and it’s fantastic! The project attempts to bridge the gap between immigrants and those born in the United States.
It arrived just in time for Indigenous People’s Day last week, when videos were show in a huge interactive video installment in New York’s Herald Square. You can also watch the videos online.
This conversation comes at a time when immigration is such a prominent issue in politics, and it shows just how much we could learn if we actually got to know each other a bit more.
Beyond The Wall features incredible actors like Orange is the New Black’s Dascha Polanco and Diane Gurrero, as well as Broad City’s Arturo Castro and actress and comedian Cristela Alonzo. Activists and others have also contributed their personal immigration-related stories and how it’s shaped their identities and perceptions of diversity.
“I went through what a 14-year-old girl should never go through,” Guerrero says. “I came home one day and my parents were gone and were put in prison to be deported. And I’ve been without my parents for 15 years. My family came here for a better opportunity, just like so many others have.”
“Being Latin is something I had to come to terms with when I moved to the United States, because in Guatemala I took it for granted,” Castro says. “When people talk about us in a derogatory way, what they’re creating is this fear around who we are as people, and so it’s our job to counteract that with unity and with respect for each other. … The reason why I love America is because we represent the embracing of many cultures to create one.”
“I am by all means American,” Alonzo says. “But somehow my face doesn’t reflect that.” As she chokes back tears she describes being refused service at a hotel because of her ethnicity. “For me, reaching beyond the wall … is to acknowledge that all of us, while we look different, are all very connected.”
MTV’s vice president of public affairs, Ronnie Cho, tells Idlewire: “This symbolic border wall installation is a powerful way for our audience to go beyond the rhetoric, beyond the talking points and beyond the wall toward a more meaningful conversation about issues that are at the heart of this election cycle and are core to defining who we want to be as a country.”
With all of the stereotypes, xenophobia and racism that has been thrust onto immigrants since this country’s inception, these narratives are so important.
This is a really great start. Hopefully the Beyond the Wall project will act as a stepping stone to breaking down these barriers and borders that colonialism has built!