By: Meldon Dickens II
The Mexican Cultural Institute opened an exhibit entitled “Before the 45th” that explores how Chicano and Latino artists shed light on the economic, political, and social injustices faced over the past four decades up to the presidency of Donald Trump.The exhibit will concentrate on themes of political activism.
Donald Trump sparked emotions in the latino community immediately at the start of his political career. During his announcement of his Presidential run on June 26, 2015, Trump said in reference to Mexican people “They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump said.“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
More than 2 years later in 2017, President Trump received criticism for his handling of the DACA situation where immigrants who registered to be able to work and receive licensing rights in the U.S some latinos still do not feel that President Trump has the best interests of Latino people in mind.
“President Trump is doing less to help the latino community than previous presidents. The actions he has taken and continues to take directly affect the Latino community negatively,” said Itziri Gonzalez, a Davidson student and DACA advocate. Before the 45th provided many Chicano artists such as Mel Casas, Enrique Castrejon, Rupert Garcia, or Carmen Lomas Garza a platform to show the voice of Latino people to D.C.
The Art featured in the Before the 45th largely comes from the AltaMed Art Collection. Much of it includes depictions of Latino people as they are seen in their own image. “The murals were communicating a hopefulness telling the story of where Mexico once was,” said Rob McNutt, an immigrant who saw the exhibit. McNutt said that the border issue was a problem, and he explained that he went through the legal process to become a citizen, so others should as well. “I think there is hostility to what he [Trump] is doing. My wife is an immigrant from Ecuador,” said McNutt.
Even though McNutt was not very critical of Trump’s ideology in regards to latino people, the same can not to be said for many others. Josh Rivera, a resident in D.C, said that the response from President Trump after the Hurricanes in Puerto Rico was not enough. “I think many latinos in D.C are not happy with Trump. Rivera said he hopes the exhibit can keep latinos lifted up. Before the 45th sites as its own goal to highlight injustices within the Latino community.
The Before the 45th cultural exhibit will run through Dec. 29 of this year. The exhibit is free, so all who want to visit need only travel to the Mexican Cultural Institute located at 2829 16th St NW Washington, DC 20009.