LIVING OUT tells the story of the complicated relationship between a Salvadoran nanny and the Anglo lawyer she works for. Both women are smart, hard-working mothers. Both want better lives for their children. The play explores what is the shared humanity between them…and what are the differences wrought by race, class and Ana's illegal status. Through Ana, we understand what it means to leave a child in another country to come here, and the potential cost of sacrificing one's own child in order to care for someone else's. Through Nancy, we understand the pressure on women today to "do it all" and the cost of making that choice. The play also looks at the prejudices and misconceptions between Anglos and Latinos. How do we make someone "the other"? What is the cost of doing so? The play is both outrageously funny and ultimately tragic.
This week, I encourage you to make use of database, AP Images. This resources has millions of photographs from the late 19th century to the present that have been either used for or collected by the Associated Press news service. I’d suggest doing an advanced search for something like “Salvador*” (this will search for any words that begin with these initial letters), limit the created date to something like 1996-1999, and the city location as “Los Angeles” (both of these limiters are in the search options section a bit farther down the page). Using this search, I located pictures of Salvadorans at naturalization ceremonies, getting ready to vote, etc. Change the search terms and other parameters to find all sorts of other pictures!
Probably none of us can truly understand the difficulties and hardships a Central American immigrant goes through when coming to the United States. Northeastern University has partnered with various advocates and researchers to attempt to help others “experience” what this might be like by compiling actual stories of immigrants together into one “choose your own adventure” type of experience. Read a little and face some of the choices that one Salvadoran woman might have experienced when journeying to the U.S.: https://expmag.com/immigrant-experience/#yesenia-1 Perhaps living in “Yesenia’s” shoes for a few moments might affect how you approach this play.
This week I want to make sure you’re all familiar with Vanderbilt Television News Archive. This is an excellent streaming video resource that generally has national (but some local) tv news from the 1960s to the present. Not everything is available online (this is particularly true of the much older materials), but many clips can be viewed online. I searched for “Huntington Park” (as a phrase search) and found this clip from 1990: https://tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/broadcasts/577311 While this is earlier than our play, it could be an excellent resource to see buildings, neighborhoods, and also to hear how this neighborhood was being talked about as a place that was changing. You can narrow results to specific time periods, networks, etc. to find relevant materials for both visual references and more of an insight into people’s mindsets at that time.
A quick update on the shifting US/El Salvador immigration policies:
When we talked at Jane’s house, one of the issues we briefly discussed was the constantly changing American policies related to Salvadoran immigrants. At that point in time, the TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for immigrants was expected to end in September, 2019; however, due to a court case challenging this it has been automatically renewed until January 2020 (see the section on Ramos v. Nielsen). This constant flux has real effects on real people, such as can be seen in this local Nebraska newspaper about Salvadoran immigrants attempting to renew their driver’s licenses. Think about how Ana, Sandra, and Zoila were discussing the difficulties of getting their license—this is real.
US policies are expected to continue to shift in the upcoming months, both because of Ramos v. Nielsen and because of a new US/El Salvador agreement. This agreement will make El Salvador accept asylum seekers who reach the US southern border to be automatically sent to El Salvador for asylum. Which is ironic because many of these people are probably seeking asylum to get away from El Salvador. A quick NPR story sums it all up here: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/29/765480416/el-salvador-ramps-up-security-to-stop-migrants
Los Angeles, 2003
New York City, 2003
Washington D.C., 2004