Review by Pedro Joel Espinosa and Cristina González
It’s the second Saturday evening of the month in Boyle Heights, do you know where your teenage Salvadoran hija or late-twenties Mexican tio is at? That’s right they’re bonding, networking, and getting their critical thinking skills on at Las Fotos Project’s Movie Night!
This is my second time checking out this outdoor “light show” filled with thrills, and the occasional spills, and even healthy refreshments all on a cool winter LA evening and bajo a smiling luna! This time I invited my friend, (who is also sharing her experience in this blog) and we had the pleasure of watching a documentary called, “God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan,” with other community members.
After an insightful discussion facilitated by Las Fotos Project volunteers, and not to mention a fun group photo opp, my friend and I had a further in-depth reflection about the doc. Here are some our reflections:
“Time is money”
Personally, as one of the daughters of the Salvadoran diaspora, I could hear the echo of my parents longing for different conditions in their country when they fled from poverty and from their childhood which was forever tainted with memories of violence. In addition to the painful depictions that my parents have of their lives during times of war, their nostalgia for leaving their country coupled with the crude reality that they had fled to the belly of the beast where since the moment of their arrival they were told that “Time is money”. As a community organizer who is fighting against injustice this resonated with me for I saw that the “Lost Boys” soon found themselves enslaved by an oppressive system that slowly but surely made them part of a money making machine-for the rich to grow wealthier and the poor to live to work and work to survive.
“So many questions”
Watching the doc i could relate to the frustration that many of the The Lost Boys went through as expressed beautifully by John when he said, “We have so many questions and few people to give us answers.” It’s like the story of my life or the story of our parents life where they continue to be chained to a system that has the potential of keeping them hostage and doing away with their identity if they don’t continue to struggle and actively fight to unmask and unlayer the system that pulls at their chain and beats them. The same can be said about many of the struggles we face in our low-income immigrant communities such as mental despair, emotional struggles, alienation, and a life to survive rather than a life to be lived.
Pero life is a beautiful struggle and it was truly beautiful to listen to the manyquestions raised by the Sudanese protagonists and to identify how related they are to that of our immigrant community here in Los Angeles. My friend and I, were truly mentally, physically, and emotionally stimulated by the documentary because we could relate to the nostalgia of missing flavors, smells, and longing to return to our home; however just like the Lost Boys, we remain here to help our families survive difficult conditions in our countries.
“A man without culture is like a man without land”
The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan coupled with that of our community is one of the struggling dispossessed human being, not to be confused with encouraging private property because property encourages inheritance which encourages private property which encourages oppressive systems, instead a community land for community value! A community where many communities can live in harmony and in peace.
It’s no secret that Los Angeles is a diverse metropolitan city however if you ask your tia or your primo why they migrated they are not going to tell you they migrated to make LA a diverse city, people migrate to look for a better life! Some of our diversity is due to forced migration by people from diverse cultures. Just like the Sudanese community experienced the continuation of a civil war in 1985 up to 2005, the Salvadoran community did as well and many sought refuge in the United States. But this forced migration pushes people to feel as if they have do away with their culture and in some cases are forced to abandon their language too. John does not wedge too easily and takes his role as a role model and his quest to practice the Sudanese way of life within the belly of the beast. We don’t have a lot of heroes in our communities but John is an exception!
Find a way back home
The documentary screening was much more than an opportunity to watch a film, it was an educational opportunity in which the community gathered to learn about the power of critical thinking, unity, and community building. Through the example of the “Lost Boys”, we learn that community can counteract a system and push away unhealthy habits and values so that we can stay true to who we are despite living in a system of oppression. Although physically bound to an enslavement establishment, a mind can break chains, a heart can unleash love for one’s community, lost boys can find their way back home, and together the obstacles to overcome become miniscule.
Hasta la proxima,
XG and PJ