2018 - Ongoing
El Paso, Texas, United States; Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Cheerleading is a uniquely American phenomenon, often reduced to a typecast that aligns with and promotes the notion that whiteness and America are interchangeable—the image of the blond, blue-eyed cheerleader is a common visual stand-in for the concept of “Americana.” As a sport, it is part acrobatics and part dance, and has participants from all ethnic identities, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. For my project, I am focusing on the cheerleading team at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas, a school that sits less than half a mile away from the Rio Grande and the US-Mexico Border.
El Paso and Juarez are sister cities. Many Tejanx El Paso residents have lived in Juarez and vice versa. The teenagers who spend their time in both of these cities are at the heart of this exchange. The region they call home has been co-opted as the stage for increasingly extreme political theater, and they have been reduced props and background actors. I'm seeking to re-center them, and enable them tell their own stories as teenagers living their lives in a border region, and to enable a discussion about what it means to be American on one’s own terms.