Under the names DJ Mamacit and DJ Guagua, my friend Kelsee and I, with the collaboration of our friend Victoria, co-host a show on our college radio station KUPS called “No más”, dedicated to advocating for the rights of the detainees of the Northwest Detention Center.
The NWDC is a for-profit prison owned by the GEO Group that holds 1,575 undocumented immigrants. The purpose of the detention center is to hold individuals suspected of visa violations, entry without papers, or unauthorized arrival, while they are subject to deportation and removal until a decision is made by immigration authorities to grant a visa and release them into the community, or to repatriate them to their country of departure. The NWDC is a place where detainees are paid a mere $1 a day for their labor, where they are not given the critical medical attention they need, are fed unappetizing meals, are dehumanized by the prison’s employees, and are separated from their families. It destroys lives.
The idea to start this show came from inspiration by socially-conscious, decolonizing, activist, rebel musicians like French-Chilean rapper Anita Tijoux. Ana was born in France to two Chilean exiles who had escaped the 1973 coup d’etat that led to Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship. As a woman of color from a country that continues to suffer from colonialism, and as a citizen of this country who cannot be recognized as truly “American” without being questioned as to “where I’m really from”, her music really resonates with me.
So Ana Tijoux was in LA to bring music to the detainees from outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center in a “chant down the walls” concert (link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMxC-Dp-wUg). I thought about how awesome it would be to share her empowering words with the detainees of the NWDC through the radio, which they have access to inside. It evolved into the idea of a program where we share testimonies and poetry by the detainees and their families, as well as news reports in order to get community support for immigrant justice and action against the detention center.
On our friday show we talk about issues ranging from the deportation of the 2014 NWDC hunger strike leader, Cipriano Rios; the expected rape of 80% of women who cross the border, and the hunger strikes at the Karnes detention center for women in Texas. On wednesdays we play themed music, from new Chilean cumbia and Colombian electro tropical, to revolutionary music and Latin top 40.
As Victoria and I will be graduating soon (in 3 weeks!!!) we won’t be back to produce the show 🙁 But Kelsee plans on continuing it together with a new co-host, our friend Nora. I’m sure they will do a great, or even better job (public speaking is hard!). “No más” was a great experience. It was personally important for me to keep these issues alive on a regular basis, and I really enjoyed playing and discovering music.
Most importantly, the NWDC is an exploitative, anti-people of color institution that goes invisible in Tacoma and our lives on this perfect liberal arts campus. We at UPS are in a SPECIAL position to use our privilege to advocate for the detainees, whose stories are largely silenced, and work for their freedom by empowering their voices (I must recognize that this year, we’ve seen collective efforts from groups on campus such as the club Advocates for Detainees’ voices, a student organized panel on the racialized deportation system, and an alternative fall break program on immigration issues in Tacoma). I hope to still be involved in the community after I graduate.