MCALLEN, RGV – A community-inspired video highlighting the success and vibrancy of McAllen reflects the city’s geography and demographics.
The video commercial, which is being shared on social media, points out that McAllen is part of a region that is 90 percent Latino.
The commentary in the video is spoken by local residents. They say immigration “was never a crisis in McAllen” but rather “part of an all-American story.” And, they argue McAllen is a Latino community that is thriving, with good public safety and educational outcomes.
Here is the video:
“The world’s eyes are on McAllen in the wake of the federal policy of separating and detaining immigrant families seeking refuge at the border,” said Adan Garcia, president of PolluxCastor Creative, which produced the video.
“The underlying fear of a ‘demographic change’ harming our nation calls our community’s fundamental character into question. For years we’ve quietly proven what can be achieved by a Latino-built community; it’s time we stopped being quiet.”
The McAllen video contrasts sharply with a commentary piece by Fox News personality Laura Ingraham. On Wednesday, Ingraham said:
“In some parts of the country it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they are changes none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.
“From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically, in some ways, the country has changed. Now much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.”
Here is the text of the McAllen video:
You’ve seen my hometown in the news
Pictures of migrant and refugee families being detained
And even though it is only one of over 100 communities with federal detention centers
McAllen, Texas, is unique because in a region where nine in of ten of us are Latino
Immigration was never a crisis
It is part of an all-American story
A new story you haven’t seen
You don’t see that McAllen is a Latino community that is thriving
Or how McAllen’s children are outperforming expectations
Why McAllen is open to everyone
And why we are stronger for it
That we are building a sustainable community
Or that McAllen is one of America’s safest cities
In a way, McAllen feels like America’s past
And looks like America’s future
A future where everyone is welcome
In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, Garcia said the video is part of a bigger project called Another Side of Us, which includes a website, a Facebook page and You Tube account.
“We have had a lot of attention as a community recently, regarding the detention center, the border wall, the border violence. All of us have had the question, when we go out of town, is it okay down there. Are you safe, how is business with the border issues, and this is a response to those misconceptions that are taking place,” Garcia said.
PolluxCastor Creative does work for the City of McAllen and the McAllen Chamber. However, Garcia said the Another Side of Us is being produced without taxpayer dollars.
“We thought it was a smart thing to make a community project and tell our story for the Valley and specifically McAllen. Everyone was extremely helpful, the city opened their doors, some of the local businesses too, a lot of people were willing to help out. We wanted to encourage people to tell their stories versus having the city or some organization push an agenda. We wanted to create a dialogue piece where people would be inspired to share their stories.”
The video is having an immediate impact. On the first day there were 1,000 shares on Facebook, with many people sharing stories about their experiences of life on the border. At press time, the video had reached about 120,000 viewers on Facebook, with about 3,600 likes. There have also been about 6,500 views on Twitter.
Asked what the objective for Another Side of Us, Garcia said:
“There is a misconception about communities with a Latino majority. It seems like there is a fear that it has to be unsafe, possibly un-American. We want people to start sharing their own stories from McAllen so people can see that is not true.
“We feel it is going to open the conversation and start the dialogue and we are hoping to encourage other people, whether it is artists, designers, musicians to also share their own stories from our town but also other border towns.
“McAllen has been pretty quiet about speaking up but I think with all the national attention it is time for us to continue to speak. That is the goal here. I am excited about it. I think the community is excited about it. No community is perfect but I think it is important people know the true story.”
Garcia pointed out that in certain rankings, McAllen is rated the 20th safest city in the country.
“That doesn’t coincide with the perception (in the national media). We just want people to see our people, see the lifestyle. I think people will have a better feeling, of the level of safety and the quality of life.”
Rebecca Olaguibel, director of retail and business development for the City of McAllen is delighted with the new video and the Another Side of Us project. On Instagram, Olaguibel posted: “Have friends outside the RGV who think you live in a dangerous city? This is the start of a community project to show the world what life is really like in a border city like McAllen. There’s never been a more important time to tell the world your story.”
Sounds great. But data from other sources isn’t nearly as positive.