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Artist Jackie Amezquita Walked From The U.S.-Mexico Border To Los Angeles

She faced physcial hardships and verbal abuse along her eight day journey from the border.

Sunset descends upon Los Angeles' Chinatown as a crowd gathers inside an art space filled with socially-conscious art. Called “Decentralized,” the works here largely look at issues of displacement and brings together students from ArtCenter College of Design and local nonprofit Art Division.

Meanwhile, not too far from here, Jackie Amezquita is walking.


The ArtCenter student, only a short time away from graduation, is on the final stretch of an eight-day journey that has taken her from the U.S.-Mexico border — separating San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico — to Los Angeles. Most of her trek has been made on foot.

“Huellas que Germinan” is a performance piece that stretches 150 miles and is Amezquita's meditation upon her personal history.

Photo courtesy of Jackie Amezquita.

Born in Guatemala in 1985, she headed to the United States in 2003. Amezquita turned 18 during the course of that journey and lived undocumented in the U.S. for more than a decade.

Two years ago, she received her green card.

"I'm in a position of privilege now," says Amezquita in an interview conducted after the conclusion of her performance. The point of “Huellas que Germinan” was for Amezquita to "displace" herself again, but with the knowledge that she has privilege now that she didn't when she was 18.

It was a walk that Amezquita intended to conduct in silence. That, however, changed.


On the second day of her trip, Amezquita was still in the vicinity of San Diego when a woman called her a "wetback." She responded verbally to the slur and the woman's subsequent rant. "That's when I broke the silence because I need to speak out," she says. "I couldn't keep walking and be silent when someone was treating me like that. It was really intense."

The following day, Amezquita was set to receive a ride from friends across a 10-mile stretch from Oceanside to San Clemente, where road restrictions would prevent her from walking. Unfortunately, Amezquita's friends were involved in a car accident on the way to get her.

The artist cancelled her walk for that day after receiving the news by text message and tried to figure out a way to find her friends. Ultimately, she took an Uber to the hospital where her friends were. "I had the privilege to actually take an Uber," she says, pointing out that in order to get a ride, one needs a smart phone and access to funds via means like a debit card and bank account.

Amezquita's performance was part of a class at ArtCenter called "Socially Engaged Art II." Social-practice artist Olga Koumoundouros, who has been teaching the course for two years, says that it's a way to help artists understand the "responsibility" involved in their work.

Amezquita and social practice artist Olga Koumoundouros. Photo courtesy of Jackie Amezquita.

"I'm really interested in shifting their interests from creativity as an insular activity that's only about their ego or their bright ideas and having them look outward to become good citizens, to think of their place in the world, understand their impact to the different things that they do," she says. Koumoundouros joined Amezquita for seven miles of the walk on the day before the performance concluded.

At various different points in time during the trek, Amezquita had friends travel with her, but she also spent a good deal of time walking alone. She says that reactions changed throughout the course of her trip. In some areas, there were people — presumably unaware of what she was doing — who cheered for her. As she made way into Los Angeles, though, she was stopped by men who tried to talk her into get into their cars. "They were like, don't you need money? Jump in the car with me," she recalls.

Amezquita steps into an oil drum during her performance. Photo courtesy of Jackie Amezquita.


In front of the Chinatown art space, Amezquita removed her overalls and top to reveal the "Traje," or suit, crafted from materials specific to Guatemala as well as her own menstrual blood. She then submerged herself in a trash can that was "abducted," which also resembled the containers to dispose of murdered women in Mexico.

"That's the reason why I put the water in, because I was not one of them. I made it," she says. "It was one of my grandmother's worries, that I was going to end up in one of these trash cans, burned, and they were never going to find what happened."

“Huellas que Germinan” also speaks to the greater subject of migration. "There are many, many reasons why people migrate here. It's not just for a better opportunity," says Amezquita. "Sometimes, you actually need to ask for help, to a different country, because you have to flee yours in order to survive, not just to look for a better life."

The oil drum she stands in represents the barrels that often hide the bodies of murdered women. Photo courtesy of Jackie Amezquita.

For decades, Guatemala had been embroiled in a Civil War that included acts of genocide. (In 2013, former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt was found guilty of genocide against Guatemala's indigenous Ixil population.) Till this day, the country still suffers from poverty and violence, which Pew Research Center cited as two of the reasons for an uptick of immigration from what's known as the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — between 2007 and 2015.

Amezquita's mother came to the United States in 1989, while the artist wasn't able to join her here until about 13 years later. Now, Amezquita says, much of her family has been reunited in the United States.

"This is very personal. This is just a whole recollection of experiences. They're not only mine; they're my family and my friends," she says. "I was afraid for such a long time and I think with the help of a lot of people that know my story, I've been able to be here tonight.”

When her performance ended, Amezquita emerged from the water, her mother was there to wrap her in a towel. She has worked with her mother before in her practice, but this seemingly simple act reflected a larger symbolic void in Amezquita’s life. "I didn't have my mom to do homework with when I was little," she says, "but now I have the chance to work with her and be with her and to connect with her."

Articles

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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