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News & Events

A Statement of Response to the U.S. Border Crisis
by 
The Board of the Connecticut Art Therapy Association
Emily Reim-Ifrach, President
Aimee Jette, President-Elect
Allison Tardif, Secretary 
Mary Baker, Treasurer
Debra Gottschlak, Chapter Delegate
Caroline Heilbroner-Hammel, AMC Student Liaison
     

     
In 1883, Emma Lazarus said, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Lazarus, an American-born poet, posited that it is the loss of our tribal nature which allows us to sit idly by while atrocities take place. “We ignore and repudiate our unhappy brethren as having no part or share in their misfortunes- until the cup of anguish is held also to our own lips.” She was an outspoken activist for Jewish immigrants fleeing Russian anti-Semitic riots in 1881. She advocated for Jewish immigrants as they poured into New York City, destitute and exhausted. Lazarus launched institutes and vocational training facilities to help our new citizens become self-supporting. Three-quarters of a century later, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would use a similar phrase in response to the oppression of Black Americans, “No one is free until we are all free.” 

The inhumanity we are bearing witness to at U.S. Customs and Border patrol facilities is a humanitarian issue, regardless of where you reside on the political continuum. The most vulnerable among us are suffering at the most callous means. As they leave their home country, a realm of brutality, hardship, and oppression, they are met with a brand-new nightmare in the U.S. immigrant detention centers. In the words of Brené Brown, “If your response is, ‘The parents should not have brought their children here illegally, know this: I pray to God that you never have to flee violence or poverty or persecution with your children. And, if the day comes that you must, and your babies are forcibly removed from your arms, I will fight for you too.’”

Dr. King said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” As the Congressional Hispanic Caucus uncovers inhumane cruelties in the detention centers at our border, we have a choice about how to respond. We can choose a path of indifferent, soundless citizens, which erodes our integrity and undermines our spirit as human beings, or we can use what is available to us in our sphere of influence to impact our communities and incite action. 

According to the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Section 1.5.6: “Art therapists are encouraged, whenever possible, to recognize a responsibility to participate in activities that contribute to a better community and society, including devoting a portion of their professional activity to services for which there is little or no financial return.” This is also reflected in section 10.4 of the American Art Therapy Association’s Ethical Guidelines. This is a call to Art Therapists to respond in kind. Embrace the power and freedom you have, at this moment to speak up, counter with your art, organize a public art event as an act of activism, email your representatives and senators. Exchange silence for active engagement.

Edith Eger wrote, “What are you going to do about it? I believe in the power of positive thinking—but change and freedom also require positive action. Anything we practice, we become better at.” It’s time to become agile at speaking out against the gruesome exploitation of our immigrants. We must acknowledge that by remaining silent, we are playing a part in their misfortune, and the only way out is through replicated effort until all of us are free. We encourage you to employ your voice, creativity, activism, and influence, using the below list as a starting place. 

●    Create a public work of response art, involving the community
●    Hold a slam-poetry night in response to the crisis, bringing together community members
●    Work with other therapists (social workers, psychiatrists, doctors) to submit writing, video, painting, sculpture responses
●    Create your own response art based on:
○    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201907/children-s-drawings-and-detention-the-border
○    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/07/05/migrant-children-border-detention-center-draw-pictures-behind-bars/1660478001/

Tag your responses with: #arttherapyactivism #arttherapistscare #arttherapistsact #activismarttherapy #arttherapyresponds #bordercrisisresponse #arttherapyresilience #CATA #AATA #arttherapy #arttherapist #artheals #artsaves #civilrights #stopopression #freefamilies #freethechildren #socialactionarttherapy #politicalart #politicalarttherapy #humanright #peace #freedom

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Contact your governor, senator or congressperson
Believe it or not, the most impactful method of communication is to LEAVE A VOICEMAIL on your governor, senator or congressperson’s voicemail. Use these links to locate their phone numbers.

https://www.usa.gov/state-governor
https://www.congress.gov/state-legislature-websites
https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
https://www.house.gov/representatives


Should you choose to send an email, copy and paste the following and email to your official:

[DATE]

Dear Representative, Senator, Governor [fill in proper title and name],

Our country is bearing witness to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. U.S. Customs and Border patrol facilities are engaging in gruesome exploitation of our most vulnerable: infants, children, mothers, and fathers fleeing a realm of brutality, hardship, and oppression. A brand-new nightmare welcomes them as they reach the U.S. border, presented with immediate detainment in cruel and grisly conditions. 

As an [Art Therapist, Psychiatrist, Social Worker, etc.] and a citizen of our state and the human race, I insist that you act immediately. The fact that these crimes of humankind are permitted to proceed unaddressed is unacceptable at the most basic level. In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “A time comes when silence is betrayal” and the late poet, Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” It is our job as citizens to speak out and yours as an elected official -and- representative of the people, to ensure that our administration upholds the very elements which provide our collective freedom. May this letter inspire you to take urgent, meaningful, robust action towards this goal.

Sincerely,

[insert name]
[address]
[email or phone number]