April 5 - Wisconsin Psychological Association annual meeting, Madison, Wisconsin April 5 - Rainbow Book Cooperative, Madison, Wisconsin April 13 - San Antonio Book Festival, San Antonio, Texas April 15 - Book People, Austin Texas April 29 - Book presentation, Lozano Long Latin American Studies Institute, Austin, Texas May 18 - The Twig bookstore, San Antonio, Texas May 24 - The Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Texas June 1 - Barnes & Noble (N. Preston), Dallas, Texas
The city of Juárez is ground zero for the drug war that is raging across Mexico and has claimed close to 60,000 lives since 2007. Almost a quarter of the federal forces that former President Felipe Calderón deployed in the war were sent to Juárez, and nearly 20 percent of the country’s drug-related executions have taken place in the city, a city that can be as unforgiving as the hardest places on earth. It is here that the Mexican government came to turn the tide. Whatever happens in Juárez will have lasting repercussions for both Mexico and the United States. Ricardo Ainslie went to Juárez to try to understand what was taking place behind the headlines of cartel executions and other acts of horrific brutality. In The Fight to Save Juárez, he takes us into the heart of Mexico’s bloodiest city through the lives of four people who experienced the drug war from very different perspectives—Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, a mid-level cartel player’s mistress, a human rights activist, and a photojournalist. Ainslie also interviewed top Mexican government strategists, including members of Calderón’s security cabinet, as well as individuals within U.S. law enforcement. The dual perspective of life on the ground in the drug war and the “big picture” views of officials who are responsible for the war’s strategy, creates a powerful, intimate portrait of an embattled city, its people, and the efforts to rescue Juárez from the abyss.
War Stories is a film about the experience of war and how war transforms the lives of those who have lived it. Regardless of time and place, regardless of whether or not a war is seen as justified, for the soldier there is something deeply universal about the experience, as if he or she were enacting something timeless, something known but not fully thought or articulated that only those who have lived it can comprehend. This film attempts to bring the viewer closer to that inarticulable experience through the stories of those who have seen war up close.
Mexico, America’s third most important trading partner and a country with whom the US shares a 2,000-mile border, is hanging by a thread. "The Fight to Save Juaréz," explores Mexico’s war against the drug cartels and the implications of this campaign for Mexico and the United States. The focus of the book is Ciudad Juarez, epicenter of Mexico’s war against organized crime, where thousands have died and where at one point 25% of the Mexican government’s forces fighting this war are deployed. The book reveals an intimate portrait of a city caught in the crossfire, where no one can escape the extraordinary violence that is taking place.
This film describes the wave of kidnappings and other crimes that have swept over Mexico in the last decade. Today Mexico has one of the highest incidences of kidnapping in the world, for example, and while the phenomenon was initially a problem for the wealthy elite, it has become increasingly ‘democratized’ (as the rich found ways of protecting themselves). Today, people in all walks of life are ready targets.
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This exhibit (part of the permanent collection at Humanities Texas) explores the impact of the racially motivated murder of James Byrd on that community. Ricardo Ainslie created, wrote, and produced Jasper, Texas: The healing of a community in crisis, a traveling photographic exhibit (New York City, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Galveston) for which he enlisted the collaboration of photographer Sarah Wilson. Each exhibit opening (the exhibit book won the 2003 Digital News Award for Best Project -photography, text, design) was conceived as an event in which audiences learned the lessons of Jasper as conveyed by some of the Jasper residents who were widely credited with keeping the peace in the tense aftermath of the murder.
Through interviews with some of the world’s leading researchers studying the ways of the brain, this film explores such topics as the relationship between the brain and the visual arts, music, and poetry, conscious and unconscious functioning, and the relationship between the consciousness of humans in comparison to other animals.
Looking North: Mexican Images of Immigration (2007, 30-minutes) explores Mexican views of the phenomenon of mass migration that has resulted in the exodus of so many Mexicans from their country origin. Through man-in-the-street interviews with people from all walks of life we get a glimpse at America’s immigration controversy from a decidedly different point of reference. Viewers will be surprised at the range of reactions and feelings represented in this film.
Crossover (1999, 55-minutes) illustrates the bittersweet legacy of school desegregation in the town of Hempstead, Texas, where the historically African American K-12 school was razed and all of its contents, including years of awards and trophies, disappeared. The Sam Schwarz School was not even noted in the official history of the Hempstead Independent School District, even though most of Hempstead’s African Americans who were over the age of 40 had attended it and remembered it fondly and with a certain nostalgia, notwithstanding the Jim Crow era with which the school was associated. Crossover has been screened to a broad range of audiences across the country (from the National Science Foundation’s Chautauqua Course in 2003, the American Psychological Association’s National Multicultural conference in 2005, to conferences at historically African American universities and community Black History Month events –over 22 screenings in all). Crossover also became the cornerstone for “Crossover Lives,” a Humanities Texas – National Endowment for the Humanities oral history project (in collaboration with the Texas Association of Developing Colleges and the Texas African American Heritage Association) exploring personal narratives of the experience of school desegregation.
Drawing from in-depth interviews with identical and fraternal (same-sex and opposite-sex) twins ranging in age from 15 to 65, The Psychology of Twinship (Second Edition: Northvale: Jason Aronson, Inc. 1997) explores the emotional development of twins, their relationships with each other, and how others experience them. The book is unique in its interest in the psychology of twins’ experience rather than twins and the influence of genetic makeup.
In 1998, three white men dragged James Byrd to death behind a pick up truck in Jasper, Texas. Byrd was black, and at least two of his killers were members of a white supremacist prison gang known as the Confederate Knights of America. The racially motivated dragging death was a modern-day lynching. Long Dark Road: Bill King and Murder in Jasper (University of Texas Press, 2004) explores the life and psychology of Bill King, the man who took the lead role in the murder. Ricardo Ainslie spent two-and-a-half years researching the book in Jasper and on Texas’ Death Row, where King is presently housed. Long Dark Road was runner up for Best Non-Fiction for the 2005 Hamilton Book Awards.
No Dancin' In Anson: An American Story of Race and Social Change (Jason Aronson, 1995/The Other Press, 2002), explores life in a small West Texas town following a life-imitates-art controversy in which the City Fathers outlawed dancing within the city limits and the controversy that ensued. Anson’s dancing controversy was symptomatic of Anson’s social transformation following the Civil Rights Act. People of Mexican ancestry who during Jim Crow had not been permitted to live within the city limits or eat at its restaurants now comprised a third of the town’s population. No Dancin’ explores the implications of Anson’s profound social change as both individual and a collective experiences and the ways in which this small Texas town may mirror what is taking place in America more generally.