In this episode, I’m honored to welcome back Paola Mendoza, along with the co-author of her new book Sanctuary, Abby Sher with an urgent conversation for this moment, just a month away from our next election.
Paola is an acclaimed film director, activist, author and artist working at the leading-edge of human rights all alongside being a devoted mother to her 7-year old son. A co-founder of The Women’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored the New York Times best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World.
Abby is an award-winning writer and performer and author of Miss You Love You Hate You Bye, All the Ways the World Can End, Breaking Free, Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying, and Kissing Snowflakes. Abby has written and/or performed for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Second City, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, HBO and NPR and one of her essays was included in the first season of Amazon TV’s, Modern Love. Most importantly, she says, she is the mom to three very cool kiddos.
I first interviewed Paola after the Women’s March of 2016, personally still shell-shocked by the election of Trump and searching to find my own voice of resistance and path to activism. Since then, she has continued to be at the forefront of social change, especially when it comes to the issue of immigration, as she has organized, demonstrated, documented stories while travelling with the Caravan and now co-written a young adult novel that is both a cautionary tale and story of hope, Sanctuary.
Hope and faith run through this conversation I have with Paola and Abby just as it runs through the poignant book they co-created, a story that paints a harrowing picture of a dystopian future, an America in 2032 that microchips its citizens to easily identify and capture undocumented immigrants. It’s also a book that illuminates resilience, strength, and the power of love.
I hope you’ll listen with an open heart as Paola and Abby share about the teenage protagonist Vali who becomes a freedom fighter, the mother who sets Vali on her quest, how storytelling builds compassion and calls us to action, and how you and I can spread this story far and wide and organize for the upcoming election. In doing so, we can shape a hopeful future and help make possible freedom and sanctuary for undocumented immigrants like Vali, like the families whose stories Paola has documented, like the mothers in Matamoros, and like our own neighbors, who help our communities in essential ways.
P.S. Know someone who would love this conversation? Pay this forward to a friend who may be interested.
This Episode is Dedicated by: Lilli Rey of Bay Area Border Relief
Lilli Rey is a community volunteer and human rights activist. She is a founder of Bay Area Border Relief, a San Francisco Bay Area grass roots humanitarian organization whose mission is to serve and advocate for children and families seeking their human right to asylum. She is also on the board of Protect Our Defenders and is a fundraiser for Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Lilli is the mother of 4 adult children and enjoys hiking, skiing, exercising, and traveling to new places.
Follow Bay Area Border Relief:
- For donations: bit.ly/BABRatPVF
- Twitter @BorderRelief
- Instagram @BorderProject
- Facebook Bay Area Border Relief
In This Episode We Talk About:
- The premise of Sanctuary that sets the protagonist, 16 year old Vali, on a journey for freedom to the sanctuary of California.
- The impact that Vali’s mother had in setting her on her quest and shaping who she is
- Thoughts for how we can inspire people to be informed and care about undocumented immigrants and those seeking asylum
- Why Abby and Paola made Sanctuary under the Young Adult novel genre and how it is a story for all of us
- The ways young people like Vali can lead the way
- Having conscious conversations with our kids about social justice issues in an age appropriate manner
- The importance of story to build compassion and understanding
- Paola and Abby’s hopes for Sanctuary’s impact
- MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol) and the devastating impact it has had on asylum seekers
- Why Paola and Abby insisted the book be released before the election and what they want us to do to get involved
- Paola and Abby’s experience collaborating on Sanctuary
- Approaching issues and activism with humility and Dr. Barbara’s Love’s Liberatory Consciousness Framework
- Lessons we can all learn from Sanctuary
- What’s next for Sanctuary…hopes for a sequel and a television series
This Episode’s Challenge:
For this episode’s challenge, Abby and Paola encourage us to:
- Get the book and read it
- Open our hearts as we do that
- Talk to our children about it and pass the book to them when appropriate
- Take that experience of how we are moved by it
- Share its impact
- Buy the book for others
- Donate the book to our libraries or request it be purchased
- Use this as a spark to reach out to people in our own networks and communities to better understand the immigration stories of those around us.
Learn More About Abby Sher:
Abby Sher is an award-winning writer and performer. She is the author of Miss You Love You Hate You Bye, All the Ways the World Can End, Breaking Free, Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying, and Kissing Snowflakes. One of her essays was included in the first season of Amazon TV’s, Modern Love. Abby has written and/or performed for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Second City, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, HBO and NPR. Most importantly she’s the mom to three very cool kiddos.
Follow Abby on Social Media
Learn More About Paola Mendoza:
Paola Mendoza is a film director, activist, author and artist working at the leading-edge of human rights. A co-founder of The Women’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored the New York Times best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World. Paola’s most recent book Sanctuary was released by Penguin in 2020.
Paola is also a critically acclaimed film director whose films have premiered at the most prestigious film festivals around the world. Her films have thoughtfully tackled the complex issues of poverty and immigration on women and children in the United States. She was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2017 and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. She is a co-founder of The Soze Agency and is a co-founder of The Resistance Revival Chorus, the critically acclaimed women’s chorus that believes, “Joy is an act of resistance.
Follow Paola on Social Media:
- Order your copy of Abbey & Paola’s book 👉 here!
- Ep 16: Rising Up with Paola Mendoza
- Ep 07: Living Out Loud with Jenjii Hysten
- Ep 72: Seeking Asylum is a Human Right with Bay Area Border Relief’s Belinda Arriaga
- Let’s Renew Our Commitment to Racial Justice This High Holiday Season (Kveller article by Julie Neale)
- Dr. Barbara Love’s Liberatory Framework
- The interview led by America Ferrera when the book launched
Let’s Renew Our Commitment to Racial Justice
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