US & THEM
Óscar González Díaz
JANUARY 23-FEBRUARY 24 2017
The International Bridge of the Americas in Cd. Juarez, Mexico has been my port of access from my home to the U.S. for over twenty-five years. One can walk or drive through it. At its landing on the American side, there are two options for crossing: one for citizens and one for everyone else. The citizen side is often emptier and faster, but not by much. Along the way over the bridge there are many peddlers that sell anything from snacks and comforters with printed bears and wolves to cigarettes and bootleg toys. Everyday I walked through this place -- in front of all these people, I felt I was walking over the efforts of others to become something in life. The moments waiting in line to cross become a routine and hold little in the way of excitement. It is a bureaucratic endeavor. Some may romanticize the crossing as an aspiration of America to receive the tired and poor. But this idealization is simply not the case; the U.S. from its borders and the offices within it has decided who gets preference before those crossing even enter the country. One won’t be standing in line with the tired and poor. What becomes most noticeable is the mix of people and how difficult it is to label those crossing. It is impossible to distinguish one from the other, legal from illegal, citizen from non-citizen. Once the threshold has been crossed, on the other US, we are people again, we stand around and go shop, talk, help, learn, educate. The presentation of documents, the revision of bags and rights. It is this daily bureaucratic ritual that brings us together. We engage in a world that might want to deny our existence while profiting from it. We step on each other every time we cross, and we still allow others use our backs to carry their weight. We help one another bridge a gap between having and not. We cannot pretend that we do not know each other’s struggles. We are the same, us and them, U.S. citizen or not.
—Óscar González Díaz
Currently reading: December 2015 Republishing of Siegelaub: The Xerox Book