The Daunting Black Line

By Justin O’Connor '20, Mundelein High School

The United States of America, historically, has been comprised of an amalgam of cultures; each immigrant group bringing its own hand to develop the syncretic way of life to which we adhere. On principle, we have yearned to be a nation which delivers liberty unto all of its citizens, and strived to reach out to those with no liberties from other nations with contradicting agendas. We are a united nation of differing peoples, all for the better.
            However, with the fusion of cultures comes friction. Xenophobia, racism, and bigotry are ever-present in our nation, and in all nations. These themes being present in our populace has led to the rise of past rulers wishing to draw a thick black line between those who sit outside the constraints of European conceptualizations of perfection, rulers wishing to push the agenda of imperial rule and imperial prosperity, rulers who pay no mind to the plights of those who they do not wish to paint a spot for in our society.
            This fact draws me to a picture taken by Oscar Moya on the border of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The image hangs in a somber blue room in the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Illinois alongside other pieces painted by Moya.
            The image was titled “La Linea.” It revealed many important messages about social interaction and the aforementioned xenophobic attitudes towards cultural relations which are evidently prominent in the United States. The border wall provided a stark and obvious breakup in landscape. The rural, fielded El Paso collided harshly with the Juarez cityscape.

It showed one thing for certain: division.

            Nevertheless, I am still convinced that this intense depiction of an all-too-real reality was not Moya’s intention. The collision of these two unique landscapes revealed what is perhaps a much more important truth.

It was not the differences between the towns themselves that produced this division; it was the barrier erected between them, the daunting black line constructed to wall off and destroy unwelcome dreams.


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