Next week, many in the US will crowd around backyard BBQs or lay back in lawn chairs lit up by gaudy firework displays—all in the name of celebrating America. At a time when what it means to be an American is being bitterly contested, however, playwright Eve Ensler is planning on marking the 4th of July weekend in a very different way. She is calling on artists of all types to join an “Artistic Uprising” in El Paso in protest of the inhumane treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers.
“This is an EMERGEncy,” Ensler said in a statement inviting artists to participate. “Stand up for freedom, dignity, and the legal rights of immigrants and asylum seekers. End the diabolical inhumanity in detention centers and demand freedom, justice, humane treatment for all those seeking safety and a better way of life.”
Ensler, who is most famous for her feminist play the Vagina Monologues, is launching the happening through her non-profit V-Day organization. The call asks for artists to bring their “music, poetry, drums, words, passion, theatre, bodies, outrage and love” to the detention centers at the border for a 24-hour vigil beginning at Friday, July 5 at 9:00 am.
“By showing up, making art and noise, we RISE against the systemic violence and denial of human rights that immigrants and refugees experience,” Ensler writes in the call. “We RESIST the governments and institutions that create and support inhumane conditions of detention. We UNITE in our demand that these camps be closed, and that children be reunited with their parents—the most fundamental and basic human right.”
Ensler co-founded V-Day, an organization seeking to end violence against women, with a group of women on Valentines Day in 1998. In 2012, the group launched One Billion Rising, a global campaign that sponsors international rallies in support of the cause every February.
Given dire headlines about the treatment of immigrant children in modern-day concentration camps, Ensler’s happening isn’t the only pro-immigrant protest taking place next week. On Tuesday, July 2, the advocacy groups MoveOn, United We Dream, American Friends Service Committee, and Families Belong Together will lead protests outside local congressional district offices around the country demanding the closure of immigrant detention centers.
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