Alan Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous poet, installation and adornment artist from the coastal Zapotec community of Oaxaca, México. Much of the artist’s work is invested in thinking with and through fugitivity, language, grief, ancestral memories, and the role of storytelling in migrant households. Pelaez Lopez is the author of Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award, and to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press, 2020). Their poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and “Best of the Net,” and selected to appear in Best New Poets 2019 and Best American Experimental Writing 2020. Pelaez Lopez has been building with undocumented queer and trans migrants for ten years.
Alan’s art has been supported primarily by other independent artists as well as fellowships and/or residencies from Submittable, the Museum of the African Diaspora, VONA/Voices, and University of California-Berkeley. They live in Oakland, CA & the internet as @MigrantScribble.
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Alan Pelaez Lopez was born in Mexico City and grew up in their family’s village by the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, México. At five, Pelaez Lopez migrated to the United States, undocumented. As a minor, Pelaez Lopez began to make jewelry as a source of income, which is where they found their passion for art.
In 2010, Pelaez Lopez became artistically, socially and politically involved in the immigrant rights movement as DREAM Act votes were about to take place. In 2011, after the legislation failed, Pelaez Lopez helped organize an 11 night and 12 day action on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to denounce and testify against the criminalization of immigrants in the state. At this time, they took on leadership positions with the Student Immigrant Movement and shortly after, with the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project.
As a young organizer, Pelaez Lopez was guided by undocumented Black immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America, which is what led them to develop an unapologetically Black and queer feminist vision for liberation. Through community organizing and strategizing, Pelaez Lopez has facilitated roundtable discussions with U.S. Senators and Representatives; protested detention centers in CA, TX, NY, and MA; and led political education workshops in DC, NY, MA, VT, CA, GA, TX, IL, PA, and CT.
In 2013, Pelaez Lopez was named a recipient of the National Youth Courage Award for their commitment to uplifting the voices of LGBTQIA+ undocumented immigrants in the United States. They accepted the award in New York City and was an honored guest at NYC Pride. In 2014, they moved to Los Angeles to complete a fellowship at the UCLA Labor Center where they launched their first visual storytelling project and has since worked in the field of public and digital narrative(s).
Pelaez Lopez has worked for Black Girl Dangerous Press and Everyday Feminism, and published widely in print, digital and audio media. They have been interviewed/in conversation by/with The Root, The Nation, PBS Newshour, Telemundo, Univision, Them, and NPR to name a few.
Pelaez Lopez is a former steering committee member of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and currently serves on the steering committee of the Black LGBT Migrant Project (BLMP). Through BLMP, Pelaez Lopez is committed to support and uplift the voices of Black LGBTQIA+ migrants by continuously questioning migration. Their work with BLMP asks: What are the human conditions that create the forced migration of LGBTQIA+ Black people?; and How are Black Indigenous futures imagined, shaped and actualized?
Currently, Pelaez Lopez is living in the San Francisco Bay Area and they are a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California – Berkeley. Their dissertation, Fugitive Authorship: UndocuBlack Immigrants and the Literary Imaginary, examines the development of undocumented Black Indigenous (undocuBlack) literature and their legal and cultural understandings of U.S. citizenship between 2008-2019. In reading cultural production crafted from the embodied experiences of undocumented migrants, the dissertation reveals the degree to which undocuBlack conceptualizations of citizenship depart from a singular analysis of Federal Immigration law to also examine the structures of settler-colonialism in the U.S. and the global circuit of anti-Black violence. In doing so, Pelaez Lopez argues that undocuBlack cultural workers enter assemblages with African American and Native American communities to demand reparations and (body, land, and linguistic) sovereignty, asks that directly transgress the narrative demands of the immigrant rights movement.