Jun 2, 2017

The Border Ghetto series and Langston Hughes

About the 2017 Border Ghetto series
Presented by the Digie Zone Network
Dedicated to the late Langston Hughes

Border Ghetto 1

Border Ghetto 2

Border Ghetto 3

Check out the adventures of J.T. and his pal Way-Pac, two young black men who live in El Paso, Texas, a community across the border from Juarez, Mexico.

"Border Ghetto" is inspired by true events and real people who live in this border region. It gives voice to a segment of the African-American population, a community you rarely hear about in the daily discourse about the border. Even online discussions about their insights and contributions are practically absent.

Most initial reactions to the use of humor in illustrating a slice of life on the border have been positive. As expected, one of the criticisms is that it plays to negative stereotypes about young black men in America today. Following this logic, the same could be said about the stereotypes of young Hispanic men who live out their daily lives as "cholos." These young men, black and Hispanic, are self-actualizing people who are carving out an existence for themselves on the edge, a life often fueled by adrenaline-driven exploits.

The border is its own ghetto, trapping everyone who lives in it with its rules, internationally imposed restrictions, cultural mores and socio-economic conditions. At the same time, the border offers a dynamic experience for the intrepid at heart that prefer to defy its conventions. Every community in the world that straddles a border has its "border ghetto." What we share here is a glimpse into our particular border lifestyle.

Langston Hughes, one of America's greatest modern poets, is best known for his poem "Harlem -What Happens to a Dream Deferred?" Among other things in his life, Hughes lived in Mexico for about a year and visited the El Paso-Juarez border, according to historians. His poetry captured the essence of what life was like for fellow blacks during his era (1902-1967), and his unique perspectives included his assimilated experiences of life in Mexico and the border. Here is one of his most poignant poems:

Border Line

I used to wonder 
About living and dying- 
I think the difference lies 
Between tears and crying. 

I used to wonder 
About here and there- 
I think the distance 
Is nowhere.

By Langston Hughes