LOOKING AT AMERICA / través los ojos de jóvenes immigrantes

Eléctrica in the Desert


Originally published in Latina Lista at latinalista.com / text and photos by Claire O’Brien

Two very small girls waited for a 4th of July parade in a small Midwestern city a few years ago. The city’s economy is based upon a large, fluid workforce from throughout Central America – a majority of them Mexican – and an industry which has for decades been specifically recruiting workers who lack documentation. I can’t claim direct knowledge of current conditions, but I can report that in 2010, when I took these photos,  an unusally thuggish, even singular,  brand of racism permeated the culture of the city and surrounding region.

The two little girls stood like sentries, about halfway down the block from their family group, The expressions on those small faces immediately stunned me,  stopping  me in my tracks. Whatever they were focused on was most certainly not a parade. In fact, they were intently…

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Broken Hearts

self portait


When the past refuses to stay in the past, it usually heads straight for thepresent. There, it’s easy to spot, because it’s usually causing a racket of some kind. If you order it back, this type of past will appear to comply, but it never departs in good faith. As soon as you’re sure it has finally obeyed, it will show up somewhere else, claiming to be the present.

Maybe it is throwing rocks at a tank in Palestine. Maybe it is an old Jewish man, lighting a candle in Warsaw. Maybe it is a pirate in the Sudan. Maybe it is sneaking across the Mexican border. Maybe it is a 16-year-old gang member aiming a gun at a 15-year-old drug dealer in southwest Chicago.

Or maybe it is a broken heart in Indonesia.


Art and text by Claire O’Brien / 2015


Eléctrica in the Desert


 If I hadn’t  dropped by Eeuzicasa‘s  blog today, I would, of course, never have known that today is Bunker Hill Day – and neither would you. I suppose that’s one reason George B. posted it.  More often than not, his bounty of information turns out to be something you didn’t know you might want to know.  I ended up writing a long comment, some of which is incorporated into this post. I figured I’d taken up more space than was polite – plus, I couldn’t figure out how to add photos to his blog (joke, hardy har). He was extremely hospitable, and suggested that I expand my comment into a post. And here it is.

Thanks, George!

How well I remember lounging around the Bunker Hill statue/memorial  (after I had worn out the statue on the Cambridge Common) when I was a kid – the trip to the tougher neighborhood of Charlestown was enough to qualify…

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O’Brien’s Big Retrospective

Rio Grande Post 3317 / Claire O’Brien   2015


Hay Barn off New Mexico I-25     Claire O’Brien  2015


Motel off I-25


Diesel Out Back / Claire O’Brien 2010















Desert Highway stop 1 JPG

Journado De La Muerto / Claire O’Brien 2014



At home in this world with the Early Bird Cafe / CLAIRE O'BRIEN 2012

Passing Through / Claire O’Brien / 2014

Travel Alert to Black Men visiting the USA

Three Worlds One Vision

shit is real. you could die at the hands of the flaw in america just like that. even when you non confrontational and co-operative Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Issues Travel Advisory for Bahamians traveling to United States of America For Immediate Release 8 July 2016 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has […]

via Bahamas govt issues travel alert to it’s Black male citizens travelling to america — mark jacobs lives!

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Come Back to Me, Orlando




The summer had inhaled and held its breath too long.
The winter looked the same, as if it never had gone.
And through an open window where no curtain hung
I saw you, I saw you
Coming  back to me


You came to stay and live your way

But you were scattered like leaves in the wind.
You always say “They can’t make us go away”
But I know what it always has been.

It always has been a transparent dream
Beneath an occasional sigh
Most of the time, I just let it go by
Now I wish it hadn’t begun
And yet, I saw you! Yes, I saw you
Coming back to me.


Caleb McGrew, right, wipes tears as he stands with his partner Yosniel Delgado Giniebra, center, during a vigil in memory of the victims of the Orlando mass shooting, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Miami Beach, Fla. A gunman opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Jermaine Towns, left, and Brandon Shuford wait down the street from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. Towns said his brother was in the club at the time. A gunman opened fire at a nightclub in central Florida, and multiple people have been wounded, police said Sunday. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

I realize I’ve been here before
On San Francisco cliffs overlooking the shore
So many ghosts in that mist could have been anyone –
But I saw you. It was you
Coming back to me.




What happens to promises made on a star?

We made you a promise before you were born.
Was our promise just something we made up for fun?
I swear. we thought all the killing was done.

And I saw you,  yes I saw you
Coming back to me







“There’s no tragedy. I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a wall, put a firing squad in front of them and blow their brains out. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die,”

 Pastor Roger Jimenez, Sacramento, California. Recent quote.

 ” I am not a scared, punk-ass little faggot. I am definetly not a pacifist. And I will beat the living shit out of your bigoted ass if you don’t get the fuck out of my way right now.”

Akamu Pali, my dear witty, brave and handsome friend, who died of AIDS in San Francisco in 1992. He was impossibly young.






STONEWALL – “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control… Hey! Leave those kids alone!”  The people who first physically fought the NYPD were these homeless GBLTQ kids who slept in a small park near the nightclub. Quote is taken from, of course, Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Coming Back to Me  was written by Marty Balin of The Jefferson Airplane in 1967 and released on the band’s second album, Surrealistic Pillow (1967). I changed the lyrics significantly in order to tell this story.




Beloved of Allah: the Most Beautiful Man


When Ali refused the draft, I felt something greater than pride: I felt as though my honor as a black boy had been defended, my honor as a human being… The day he refused, I cried in my room. I cried for him and for myself, for my future and for his, for all our black possibilities.

Gerald Early



With the Nation of Islam, listening to the Prophet Elijah Muhammed



With his friend, Minister Malcolm X

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.… If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”   April, 1967



“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”   March 30 1967

muhammad aliWithKids 

“In your struggle for freedom, justice and equality I am with you. I came back to Louisville because I could not remain silent while my own people, many I grew up with, many I went to school with, many my blood relatives, were being beaten, stomped and kicked in the streets simply because they want freedom, and justice and equality in housing.”


“Here was the heavyweight champion, a magic man, taking his fight out of the ring into the arena of politics and standing firm. The message was sent.”

Sonia Sanchez



“I’m king of the world! I’m pretty! I’m a bad man! I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I shook up the world!”



He shook up the world.

Michael Moore to Gov. Snyder: Go to jail.

Eléctrica in the Desert

Progressive activist, Oscar-winning filmmaker, and Flint, Michigan native Michael Moore is calling on the arrest of the Gov. Rick Snyder for his role in creating a situation in which the water supply for an entire community has been “effectively poisoned.” (Photo: MichaelMoore.com)

Dear Governor Snyder:

Thanks to you, sir, and the premeditated actions of your administrators, you have effectively poisoned, not just some, but apparently ALL of the children in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

And for that, you have to go to jail.

To poison all the children in an historic American city is no small feat. Even international terrorist organizations haven’t figured out yet how to do something on a magnitude like this.

But you did. Your staff and others knew that the water in the Flint River was poison — but you decided that taking over the city and “cutting costs” to “balance the budget” was…

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Activists from all Over the U.S. Deliver Aid to Flint*

Hwaairfan's Blog

Activists from all Over the U.S. Deliver Aid to Flint*

By Claire Bernish

Lead contaminates the water in Flint, Michigan, and as you’ve probably heard, the state government in conjunction with emergency managers needlessly endangered the lives of every resident in the city by poisoning its water supply with toxic lead — for a savings amounting to about $80 to $100 per day. And while the Flint Water Crisis has largely disappeared from headlines in both mainstream and alternative media, residents are no closer to receiving the most basic human right with any consistency.

In fact, the situation, in many ways, continues to worsen as the government not only originally failed to keep informed residents of the economically-depressed city what’s being done to solve their crisis, but failed to provide adequate supply for their daily lives.

Imagine suddenly being unable to turn the tap on in warming weather for…

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