Over the past half-century, Tijuana has gone from a swingin’ border outpost of under 200,000 to a booming cosmopolitan city of nearly two million residents – a staggering growth that is in large part thanks to a steady flow of internal migrants. In fact, as of 2011 over half of Tijuana’s population was born outside the state, making for a unique cultural stew that is proudly the sum of its many constituent parts. So how might the thousands of US-bound Haitian migrants currently stranded in the city eventually integrate into the fabric of Tijuana’s culture?
That’s the central question of the short documentary Life Between Borders: Black Migrants in Mexico, directed by self-described Blaxican and California native Ebony Bailey. Using the struggle of these particular people as a point of departure, Life Between Borders delves deeper into the experience of black immigrants residing in Mexico, and the experiences of their Mexican-born children, to understand what the implications of this mass migration might mean for Mexican culture.
Taking us to from Tijuana to Mexico City, Life Between Borders serves up interviews with a Chadian refugee and cultural promotor, a Senegalese artist, and the Mexican daughter of an African immigrant, all of whom reflect on prejudice, exoticism, and the difficulties of integrating into Mexican society. The result is a fascinating exploration of an oft-unacknowledged facet of the Afro-Mexican experience, that paints an optimistic portrait of Mexico’s multicultural future.