Latinx Film and Media

I’m New Here: Black, Indigenous and Latinx Ecologies- Day 2

Aware that the lens can function as the tool of the voyeur, the artists instead choose a closeness and proximity with their subjects, whom they know intimately. The captions and writing about their subjects form the necessary context and consent for the art to have more value beyond aesthetics. The photographs have a texture through which you can almost hear the rustling of the leaves and the crashing of the waves. The viewer becomes immersed in a fluid space of Afro-Indigenous survivance and futurity. (185)

-Tatiana Esh, “Dark Chorus”

How do the written texts relate to the images? How do they complement each other? What other aspects are revealed when you look a the text and the images together?

Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies-Curators’ Statements

Presentation (s)

Hudson,Justin Real

Delossantos,Brianna Andrea

Workshop and Class Presentation


Steve Nuñez, Alison Arteaga

1. In pairs, observe, read the statement, and have a conversation about your assigned photographer using these questions as guidance:

What interests and intrigues you about their photos?

What details would you highlight?

What stories and questions emerge from it?

What type of relationship with the ecosystem can you trace?

Do you identify a commentary on colonialism? An alternative to colonial relationships? Explain

How does the photographer invite us to envision Black and Indigenous intimacy and futures?

2. Present your ideas to the class

I’m New Here: Black, Indigenous and Latinx Media Ecologies- Day 1

I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies is a collective rallying call against colonialism. Seven artists interpret the relationship between Black and Indigenous communities to each other and the land.  (181)

The group exhibition brings together communities that span beyond the borders of people who subvert the colonial technology of the camera to create the conditions for intimacy between themselves and the people with whom they create the image. (184)


Mendoza,Vianca Nicole

Del Rosario De Regino,Ethan Valentino


Class Activity

Pick ONE of the artists showcased in the exhibition and analytically connect his/her/their work (and explanations) with ONE of these quotes from Tao Leigh Goffe’s curator statement.

a. The photographers featured in this exhibition present a vision of Black and Indigenous shared ecologies that hinges on the speculative capacity to imagine these entangled and distinct histories of struggle and survival. Beyond the narrative of racial suffering as totalizing, the Dark Laboratory is a space where campfire stories, fables, ancestral myths, and legends come alive at night.

b. Together members of the collective imagine and are inspired by the clandestine and fugitive itineraries of Native and Black people across the Americas of refusal. We understand what blooms at night and what needs the dark to grow.

c. We listen for echoes of this Afro-Indigenous dialogue in the landscapes and seascapes of the Americas. Native presence for thousands of years across the Americas is often overlooked or taken as a given and distant past. The dialogue of call-and-response that we imagine between Black people, forcibly transported here, and Indigenous people is taking place all at once in the future, present, and past. Since at least the sixteenth century, the Black Native dialogue has existed over generations, and it is one of shared bloodlines and extended kin.

Photography, Social Media and Self-Representation

May Day Check-in

How are you feeling? What’s on your mind? How can I help to facilitate a successful end of the semester?

How Does New York City’s Latinx Community See Itself?

According to the 2020 census, New York City is home to the largest Latinx population of any American city: almost two and a half million of its total 8.8 million inhabitants. Latinxs are the second-largest group in the city, almost equal in size to whites (28.3 per cent versus 31 per cent), and could become the largest group by the next census. If they once lived mostly in enclaves on the Lower East Side or in Washington Heights, they are now spread all over the city. The Bronx is almost fifty-five percent Latino; Queens is almost a third; Latinxs are about one out of five Brooklynites and Staten Islanders, and about one out of four Manhattanites. The Latinx population growth during the past decade has come not from migration but from births, and that trend has resulted in a very youthful population: Latinxs account for more than a third of New Yorkers under the age of eighteen.

The need for documentation

In that above mentioned context, Nuevayorkinos becomes more than just a way to showcase how Latinx New Yorkers see themselves—it is a take on the identity of the city itself. In their words:

NuevaYorkinos is a digital archival and multimedia project preserving NYC Latino and Caribbean culture and history through family photographs, videos, and stories. Established in February 2019, NuevaYorkinos seeks submissions from Latino and Caribbean New Yorkers taken within the five boroughs before 2010. For historically marginalized communities, storytelling is an act of decolonization. In a city whose Black, Brown, and immigrant communities find themselves in a constant fight against displacement, it is a way to combat gentrification. By showcasing stories from across the city, NuevaYorkinos celebrates the collective beauty, love, and resiliency of immigrant New York.

Expand on the NuevaYorkinos’ logic of photography and storytelling as acts of decolonization. What do you understand by these claims?

Class Activity


.In six groups, explore the following Instagram accounts:

Group 1 and 2: Nuevayorkinos

Group 3: Veteranas and Rucas

Group 4: Maximo Colon

Group 5: Rollie 6 x 6

Group 6: Jamel Shabazz

.Pay attention to the photographs, the types of posts, captions, hashtags, and overall visual aesthetics used.

.Report on your findings and analysis.

Discussion Questions

.Why most posts in Nuevayorkinos are celebrations—birthday parties, baptisms, trick-or-treating, dance parties, graduations, weddings, family reunions. What do you think is the purpose of this joyful narrative?

.Veterans and Rucas want to reframe and celebrate SoCal Chicana’s past by sharing their stories. How do their posts work toward achieving that?

.Why do you think Maximo Colón sheds light on artists, musicians, and public performances?

.How do you interpret Joseph Rodriguez’s interest in private spaces and intimacy in Latinx communities?

.What effect do Jamel Shabazz’s frontal pictures have? What type of conversation do they generate with the viewer?

Gentefied’s The Grapevine (Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez 2020-2021)

Gentefied is a Mexican American comedy-drama television series created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, that premiered on Netflix in 2020. Sadly, it was cancelled after two seasons in 2022. Gentefied follows the story of three Mexican-American cousins and their struggle to survive in dignified ways in contemporary Los Angeles. As the title suggest, the series centers on how gentrification affect the Mexican primos threatening the things they hold most dear: their neighborhood, their immigrant grandfather, and the family taco shop.

What is gentrification?

Gentrification occurs when wealthier realty corporations, individuals or families move into a neighborhood, often attracted by lower property prices. As these newcomers invest in the area by renovating homes, opening businesses, and improving infrastructure, property values rise. This increase in property values can lead to higher rents and property taxes, making it difficult for existing residents, especially those with lower incomes, to afford to stay. Gentrification can also bring changes to the neighborhood’s culture and character, as new businesses and residents may not reflect the diversity and traditions of the original community.

Discussion questions:

1. Elaborate on the interconnected challenges brought by gentrification and represented in the episode:

.family separation


.neglect/erasure of local cultures and small businesses

.job insecurity

.dangerous and unhealthy working conditions

.different forms of displacement

2. What tactics do the characters in the show employ to resist or negotiate the effects of gentrification in their lives?

The Garden Left Behind (Flavio Alves, 2019)


The Garden Left Behind follows Tina (played by Carlie Guevara), a Mexican trans woman who moved to New York City as a child and, as an adult, lives with her grandmother, Eliana. Eliana is a loving figure who sometimes has difficulty understanding Tina’s transition and overall existence as a diasporic working woman.

During the film, Tina must struggle with her immigration status and socio-economic and medical barriers to transition and make ends meet. She also navigates a troubled love relationship with a cis man and general societal tensions and repressions regarding her trans existence. 


In terms of production, this award-winning film features an authentic cast with transgender actors in trans roles and Latinx performers in Latinx roles. The same happens behind the camera as the production team collaborated with the Trans Filmmakers Project, among other film and LGBTQ+ organizations.

Even though the screenplay was developed and written by Brazilian director Flavio Alves and John Rotondo, two queer cisgender men, they engaged in timely research. 

In the Press Kit, Alves says, “To write the script, we interviewed trans women and men from many different backgrounds. To do the story justice, we met with more than 30 trans-led organizations, with hopes of including their concerns about the fictional story we were building. We needed to do our due diligence by listening to and incorporating the narratives that the trans community themselves provided to us.”

Recommended Vice News Episode



Fornes Jr,Brandon Lee

Macdonald,Merlin S

Group Discussion

After reading together page 77 of David Spade’s essay “Queer and Trans Liberation Requires Abolition,” pick one of these three topics and discuss them with partners tracing how the discussions of these texts could be integrated.

  1. Intersectionality

The directors present Tina as a nuanced, intersectional character. Her life on the screen allows us to think about different interconnected Latinx and queer facets.

Why is projecting an intersectional perspective vital for this film? Bring examples.

(Spade, 76)

  1. The right to pleasure, joy, and love (the garden)

The film purposely dedicates time on screen to showing Tina’s self-care habits, intimacy, and her group of Black and brown trans friends. The film shows how they support each other with daily and medical advice but also as an emergent activist group against police brutality and transphobia.

Why are these scenes foregrounded in the movie? How do they function? What are they trying to convey?

(See 1:00:02)

  1. Black trans activism- against everyday violence and transphobia

The screenwriting team mentioned that they “interviewed several trans women who helped” them to shape Tina’s storyline. They acknowledge that the transgender experience is different for everyone, but they say that nearly every person they interviewed had experienced some sort of violence, including physical, verbal, and emotional. 

Clearly, one of the goals of the movie is to raise awareness of the frequent violence against trans people and some possible tools to combat it.

How are trans-organizing and activism represented in the film?

(See 26:00; 44:25 ) (Spade, 78)

Recommended Podcast Episode

I’m No Longer Here (F. Frías, 2020) + Mexican Deejays (C. Ragland)- Day 2

In Monterrey, Mexico, a young street “gang” spends their days dancing to slowed-down cumbia and attending parties. After a mix-up with a local cartel, their leader, Ulises, is forced to migrate to the U.S. but quickly longs to return home. The director, Frias, captures the surreal (dreamy) sensation of feeling utterly alone despite constantly being around  (Mexican/Latine) people as Ulises struggles to find his way in New York.

Entry Questions

Pick and answer ONE of the following prompts 


I’m No Longer Here suggests that once you migrate, it’s impossible to reproduce your homeland and, more so, to really return to your place of origin. Expand on this idea by referring to the protagonist’s journey, Ulises.


Compare the two major cities and neighborhoods represented in the film: Monterrey and New York. How does Ulises experience poverty and community differently in each of these spaces?


Discuss the importance of costume, hair, and sound design in the mise-en-scene of I’m No Longer Here. Why do you think these particular elements are central to telling the story and presenting the characters’ cultural identity and their Cumbia sub-culture?


Zambrano,Gianni Ariana

Zapata,Kaylen Melanie


Close-reading Discussion:

.New York-area Mexicans remain relatively marginalized, exerting little impact on local sociopolitical structures and leading a relatively precarious economy… most of these young men have been sent by their families to the US to work… despite the difficulty of traveling to their homeland, many of them remain in close touch with their relatives and friends in Mexico (339-340) (See 5:40; 1:02:14)

.Organized social dances are an important way to examine how marginalized immigrant communities can transform the cultural landscape in this country. In the case of New York, Mexican sonidero bailes (deejay dances) are held most weekends in clubs, restaurants, community centers, and bingo halls in Queens (New York). Although young women are present at these events, they are typically outnumbered by young men at a ratio of at least three to one. (340) (See 21:00)

.The sonideros are responsible not only for the music, but also for many other aspects of the event. At times, they are the organizers and promoters of the dances themselves, and they also provide the elaborate and colorful light systems and obligatory smoke machines. The sonidero, who is always male and usually five to ten years older than most of the dancers, is recognized for his voiced “personality” which he manipulates with a myriad of processed tape loops, pre-recorded samples, and sound effects (such as delays, reverb, echoes, and phase-shifters). With his synthetically distorted voice and other effects, he achieves the desired sound: big, loud, and superhuman. (342) (See 48:20)

I’m No Longer Here (Frías, 2020) + Mexican Deejays (C. Ragland)- Day 1

Entry Questions:

Migrants use music in various ways in their new environments: to stay connected to their home culture, resist cultural assimilation, navigate their evolving identities, and strengthen bonds within their ethnic, racial, or class communities.

Is there a musical genre you personally identified with a particular Latinx group in the US?

Metaphorically speaking, how does this music illustrate aspects of the (im)migrant experience?

Can you identify these aspects highlighted in I’m No Longer Here?


Cumbia started as a folk music style in coastal Colombia, blending influences from the region’s diverse population, especially Afro-indigenous groups. It became popular across Colombia in the 1940s and 1950s and then spread to other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, notably Mexico. It’s deeply connected to working-class communities, but newer versions are more global yet with outstanding local variants, as in the case of Monterey. By the turn of the millennium, Mexicans had reconfigured cumbia to such an extent that many Mexicans believe cumbia is of Mexican origin.

How are the Mexican characters in I’m No Longer Here “reconfigured” cumbia?


Crisantos,Jennisa J

Fernandez,Sienna Chanelle



Pick one of these quotes by musicologist Cathy Ragland to expand on the cultural movements portrayed in the film.

.In these weekend dances, the deejay, or sonidero as he is known, together with those in attendance, creates a powerful transnational musical and social experience. By manipulating music and simultaneously reconfiguring time and place, they turn feelings of displacement and marginalization into a collective sense of identity and connectedness. (339) (See 7:50)

.In the process, they dramatize and mediate their own experiences of a modem life that oscillates between and encompasses both Mexico and the US. They effectively portray and create a modernity animated by both real and imagined interpretations of history and culture and by their shared experiences of travel, dislocation, and a reinvention of their lives as both Mexicans and Americans. (339) (See 18:00)

Basquiat (Julian Schnabel, 1996) + King of the Line (Negrón-Muntaner and Ramírez) Day 2


How do Negrón-Muntaner and Ramirez expand further the previous clip?

.By representing “bodily, emotional, and psychological sensation, through various aesthetic means, including collage, repetition, improvisation, copying, scaling, designing, and color, Basquiat generated a dense sensorial archive that revised, related, and recontextualized black, Caribbean, indigenous, and other knowledges, affects, and memories. (339)

.Basquiat likewise evoked not only writing in his texts but also the erasure and repression of stories, knowledge, and histories by way of “scratching on these things”: crossing out, smudging, and painting over letters… Basquiat employed words in a similar manner as he did crowns: to move and direct the reader’s eye to consider alternative associations that disrupt knowledge that has become so naturalized that it appears as “empirical truths.” (348)

.Like Schomburg, Basquiat referenced Afro-Latino history to complicate Anglocentric narratives on blackness and viewed what he would call “Spanish American” black history as a central part of global history. (353)

(See also pages 349, 351)


Rodriguez,Stefany Cristine

Silva,Anna L


Unpacking the film

How do you interpret the character of Benny Dalmau, the Puerto Rican basketball player and artist? Why are his scenes important? What is your interpretation of the ending of the film? 21:15; 52:17; 1:38:49

How does the film (directed by white filmmaker, painter, and visual artist Julian Schnabel) reproduce in its mise en scene the white gaze/frame that impacted Basquiat throughout his intense short life? (See Negrón-Munataner and Ramirez, 362)

Basquiat (Julian Schnabel, 1996) + King of the Line (Negrón-Muntaner and Ramírez) Day 1

Art critics and scholars, Frances Negron-Muntaner and Yasmin Ramirez argue that Basquiat’s use of crowns and related symbols constitute a critical vocabulary of contestation that resignifies the concept of sovereignty (self-rule) in at least three distinct, if at times overlapping, ways:

.At one level, as Basquiat mined black stereotypes and inquired into the production of racist/ colonial orders… [the goal] is to achieve sovereignty through the eradication of “stereotypes, cultural appropriation, exclusion, ignorance, irrelevance,” and the “rhetorical imperialism” embedded in U.S. (and European) law and discourse.

.Basquiat’s pursuit of a (royal) place in Western art history led to a persistent inquiry into the relationship between subjectivity (who I am), lineage (who are my ancestors), and authority for Afro-diasporic artists. 

.Finally, Basquiat’s frequent deployment of crowns to honor black men is akin to Frantz Fanon’s characterization of postcolonial “true sovereignty” as the affirmation of black dignity and self-worth. (338)

Do you see these three arguments depicted somehow in Julian Schnabel’s film?

How does this painting, “50 Cent Piece” (1983), exemplify what Negrón-Muntaner and Ramirez argue?

Significantly, Basquiat writes “OPERATION BOOTST/RAP” at the same level and in proximity to “US OCCUPATION OF HAITI ENDS 1921,” linking different migratory flows originating in U.S. invasion and economic dispossession. Perhaps to underscore that the Puerto Rican exodus is a result of the invasion and not simply an immigrant phenomenon, Basquiat does not mention Luis Muñoz Marín, the Puerto Rican coarchitect of the migration policy, but his father, Luis Muñoz Rivera, who was acting as secretary of state and chief of the cabinet for the autonomist government of Puerto Rico when the United States invaded the island on July 25, 1898. (358)

See pages 353-359




Unpacking the Film

Elaborate on the racially-based aggressions displayed in the film? What strategies did Basquiat use to navigate racism within the art world? 1:04

Self-care and Photo/Video Essay Projects Check-in

I. Self-care


Get together with your team, and discuss these three questions.

.What does self-care mean to you? 

.How do your personal, academic, or job responsibilities impact your ability to practice self-care? 

.What are some ways to overcome these challenges?

II. Photo/Video Projects Check-in

Tell us about your project. Create a mental map for us

.What topics and perspectives you will explore together?

.How do you envision your photo or video essay?

.Workflow: what things are working? What can be improved or changed?