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La Diáspora festival, a journey where we are walking together

Diaspora /dīˈaspərə/ (Greek: Dispersion): The dispersion of people and communities from their original homelands to different places of the world.

I am not trying to alarm anyone, but I am an immigrant! And it is likely that if you are reading this you are too, or your parents, or your grandparents. We live in a community of immigrants, within a country of immigrants — a country that nevertheless seeks to make us feel isolated and alienated from each other in order to control us, exploit us and abuse us, even though we are together on this journey.

In the last few years, we’ve developed an awareness that words like “Hispanic,” “Latino,” “Latinx,” etc. in the United States are nothing more than made-up labels that oversimplify our identities, our intersections, and our history as a continent. A history that is inextricably linked to colonization and oppression, but also with resistance, ancient traditions and everything in between.

That is why La Diáspora Festival celebrates the coming together of artists in Latino communities of the U.S. (their words, not ours), and supports the journey to reconnect their creative cultural heritage with communities in Latin America. It is an effort in cultural diplomacy, to proudly showcase how we are harnessing the power of art to generate safe spaces and empower our communities in the United States.

This is a social experiment that seeks to honor our shared journey through the exploration of all our intersections, which is why we seek to create an inclusive platform with artists who identify as Indigenous, Afro-Latinx, and LGBTQ, among many others, and we invite a diversity of voices to be present—yours included.

(Left) Arturo Moh Méndez, organizer of La Diaspora Festival, alongside artist Keith Secola. Courtesy: Arturo Moh Méndez

This is a community-driven festival, and in order to make it happen, we are raising $15K to pay for artist transportation and accommodations, production expenses and the creation of a documentary. In order to reach our goal, we have created a crowdfunding campaign (bit.ly/ladiasporafestival), and are also hosting fundraising events in the Mission before we go to Puebla, México in November of this year.

Our next event is on Aug. 17, The Diaspora Festival presents Banda Sin Nombre, The Genie, and Shane Zaldivar at Amado’s — a newly reopened venue, which was previously called Viracocha. You can get your tickets at bit.ly/amadosaug17. Later we will have a one-day festival at Impact Hub San Francisco on Sept. 28, showcasing the work of participating artists and others who wish to contribute to and participate with La Diáspora Festival locally with all of the people who cannot join us in Mexico due to documentation-related, financial, or professional reasons, we want to hold space for everyone.

In the words of Maestro Michael Ríos, a graphic artist from the Mission famous for his Santana album covers: “My spirit is with this project and all the artists participating in it. We are all spiritual beings, walking this journey together and growing with one another.” The City of Puebla and its Mayor Claudia Rivera Vivanco will host an exhibition by Michael Ríos at the Central patio of the Municipal Palace of Puebla for La Diáspora Festival.

If you, like us, are on a journey of discovery and exploration of your cultural heritage and are also willing to embrace others who are with compassion, join us in this empowering and healing community celebration, because “Yo soy La Diáspora” and “La Diáspora Somos Todxs.”

Come to our events, follow and share us on social media (@ladiasporafest), and support this project by donating at bit.ly/ladiasporafestival.

La Diáspora Festival is an International Cultural Festival taking 20 artists from the Bay Area to Puebla, Mexico from November 27 through December 2, 2019. Presenting the work of La Gente SF, Banda Sin Nombre, Michael V. Ríos, Alejandro Murguía (Laureate Poet of San Francisco), Lou Dematteis, Arturo Méndez, The Genie SF, Fam.Ily, José Lobo, Andreina Maldonado, Ilia Correa, Shane Zaldivar, Benjamin Baker, Keith Secola and many more. This Festival is empowered by the City of Puebla, Mexico, Impact Hub San Francisco, and Holistic Underground.

Story by: Arturo Méndez