Shortly after we started Breakthrough in the U.S., the 9/11 attacks occurred, leading to a boiling over of anti-immigrant sentiment and physical attacks on individuals. They also led to a series of repressive legal measures, racial profiling, police abuse, and increased detentions and deportations. Issues that are all still relevant today.
In response, we developed an immigrant rights and racial justice program spanning 12 years. Our approach was framing immigrants’ rights in a broader context of human rights abuses based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and class. We focused primarily on the denial of due process by aggressive detention and deportation actions by federal, state, and local authorities.
We leveraged popular culture and digital media to reach and mobilize young people in particular. Our goal was to reframe the debate on immigration in both public opinion and media coverage. We also encouraged and supported immigrant rights activism.
ICED is a first-of-its-kind, free, downloadable 3D video game that puts players in the shoes of immigrants struggling to live, study, and work in the U.S.–while under the constant threat of detention and deportation. ICED demonstrates the unjust nature of immigration policy to spark dialogue and presenting an enabling environment towards involvement, action, and possible transformation in policy.
ICED demonstrates how new media is an effective tool for human rights organizations to advocate and raise public awareness.
In Homeland Guantanamos, the player assumes the roles of an undercover journalist uncovering the death of Boubacar Bah, a 52 year old tailor from Guinea. Video testimonials of real immigrants in detention are fused with the gameplay to highlight the human rights abuses they experienced. Homeland Guantanamos brought attention to the harsh, inhumane conditions faced nearly 300,000 people in immigrant detention every year.
Because of Breakthrough’s use of real cases and video testimonials, these immigrant stories were given a much longer life than the typical news cycle.
The Restore Fairness campaign used compelling video documentaries along with a blog for voicing opinion to draw attention to the ways in which cruel anti-immigrant policy and laws in the United States have denied basic due process to thousands of people, with particular impact on immigrant women and their families. And how these policies also discriminate against people on the basis of national origin, race, religion, or citizenship.
Restore Fairness was one of Breakthrough’s longest campaigns, developing close and sustained collaboration with more than 20 partner organizations.
America 2049, our first-of-its-kind transmedia thriller, brought human rights into Facebook games and new audiences into action for human rights. The electrifying multimedia and multi-platform experience linked historical past to imagined future, parachuting players into the year 2049 to help change the direction of America today.
America 2049 placed Breakthrough on the leading edge of transmedia work for social justice and amplified our status as pioneers of the innovative delivery of social change.