In a sign of solidarity and pride, May first marks “May Day” where people will participate in marches across the nation to fight for minorities and workers’ rights. More than 100,000 people are expected to participate in the march in Los Angeles alone. In an effort of coming together, protesters are defining the march as one of unity and resistance during a time of great divide in our nation.
Mexican-born California native Gloria Montiel is breaking barriers and making history—literally. After becoming the first high school student from Santa Ana High School to attend Harvard in 2005, she has just made history in becoming the first undocumented student to earn a Phd from Claremont University.
Taking advantage of Barack Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) initiative—which he enacted in 2012 to give undocumented students a chance to gain higher education, Gloria strived to prove her detractors wrong. Though the journey didn’t come without struggle. “I said, ‘I want to go to Harvard,” she recalled to Ed. Magazine adding that a former classmate in her freshman year of high school said: ‘Don’t you know Mexican girls don’t go to Harvard?” This heartbreak only drove her to pull off a “miracle.” Taking on babysitting jobs to cover the rest of her tuition, she did—graduating from Harvard’s Education Master program in 2011.
Montiel spent most of her post-grad life educating people like her who may not know that they have the same opportunities and rights to education as other students do—mentoring prospective students about the same lessons she learned. Gloria’s story is the same as many people like her in America, especially in the turbulent times we live in today. However, she remains hopeful and determined in showing those people that they have one thing left—hope. In an interview with Univision she said: “I hope my story gives people a little bit of hope at a time when people are living in fear. However, it’s also proof of what’s possible to achieve.” It looks like she’s on the right path, as usual, already.
You have probably seen the Tweets, Facebook posts, and articles raving about Netflix’s original series Master Of None starring Aziz Ansari. Metacritic gave it a 91/100 and IMDB gave it a 8.7/10 so it’s definitely worth your time based on that alone. But what’s really grabbing our attention isn’t the jokes (although they are hilarious) but the social commentary and what it means to be an immigrant or child of an immigrant in this country.
We just watched Amnesty International’s new video, “When You Don’t Exist,” and to be honest we can’t quite decide how it makes us feel. Certainly the campaign raises awareness for and about disenfranchised immigrant populations. We think that’s a good thing, and although this video seems targeted to a British audience there’s no doubt that the issues it explores will become increasingly important here as the States hurdles towards 2042. On the other hand, there’s something uncomfortable about the way the campaign relies on the assumption that audiences will find whites inherently more sympathetic than people of color. Maybe that’s the point, and this ad simply forces the viewer to acknowledge a prejudice that values white personhood over any other sort. We can’t decide, though, if the point is made too subtly, and those prejudices end up being reinforced even as a positive message is made about immigration.
On yet another hand, at least one member of our staff felt a weird and undeniably problematic pleasure at seeing middle-class, suburban whites recast as disenfranchised refugees. Whether that pleasure was derived from some form of schadenfreude or uglier racial resentments is something that person will have to work out for themselves, but if you had a similar reaction we’d love to hear about it.
In fact, we’re having such a hard time deciding how to feel about this video that we’ve decided to put the question to you, in the hopes that your responses will help us decide what the appropriate response is. Take our poll below, and feel free to elaborate in the comments section if you feel the need. We need all the help we can get deciding what our opinion is on this piece.
Photo from Vimeo.
Here are a few excerpts from Zi Heng Lim’s excellent article on the challenges faced by illegal Asians in America who don’t benefit from the same visibility and organization than the Latino community.
An undocumented Asian person can easily blend in in this busy neighbordhood. Marilyn Bitterman, the district manager of Queens Community Board 7, estimates that around 40,000 undocumented people live in her district, which includes downtown Flushing. In total, 11.1 million undocumented immigrants were residing in the United States in 2011, according to the Pew Hispanic Center in a latest report. This is roughly the equivalent of the entire population of Ohio, the seventh-most populous state in the U.S.
“I’ve always known that I’m undocumented. I’ve known it since the day my B-2 visa expired,” he said, referring to the tourist visa for temporary entry (not more than six months) into the U.S. He was, however, forbidden by his family from revealing this secret to anyone outside. The horror of being sent back to South Korea was deeply ingrained in him from young.
Asian undocumented immigrants have traditionally been less visible and vocal than their Hispanic counterparts. Most of the undocumented immigrants who have gone public in the media about their status are Hispanic. In contrast, one rarely sees Asians talking about the issue on television.
“Undocumented Asians may conclude, to some extent correctly, that this is a fight that has to be waged and won by the Latino community because there’re just so many more of them,” explained Gabriel Chin, who teaches immigration law at the University of California, Davis. “The Latino involvement in immigration reform is community-wide, both undocumented and legal.”
Consequently, the many immigrant organizations in New York serve a mainly Hispanic client base. One Asian undocumented youth told me he’d planned to join the New York State Youth Leadership Council, an organization led by and for undocumented youths, but held back because “it felt like a Hispanic group and I might be left out.”
(…)for Asians, the stakes are usually much higher. They have come from half a world away, some on a visa, others paying up to $80,000 to “snakeheads,” criminal slang for Chinese gangs that smuggle people to other countries by ship. In June 1993, ten people drowned after a cargo ship called the Golden Venture carrying 286 half-starved illegal immigrants from China’s Fujian province ran aground off the coast of Queens. Having risked life and savings to come to America, those who make it wager that lying low is the best option.
Africans could be the big losers as the United States reforms its immigration laws and eliminates the green card lottery, of which Africans are the main beneficiaries.
Half of the 50,000 residence permits handed out at random each year are earmarked for Africans. It is a hugely popular program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of Africans to settle in America since the mid 1990s.
Between 2010 and 2012, one in five Africans who came to the United States to stay did so through the lottery. That made it the third most common method, at 21 percent of the total, after family reunification (43%) and refugee status or asylum seekers (23%). By comparison, in the same period only 10 percent of Europeans who became permanent residents and 3% of Asians did so through the lottery.
Earlier you probably saw us tweet about the next episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown where he will come to Los Angeles to see the meeting point of Asian, Mexican and Latino cultures. In this preview we see Bourdain with Roy Choi [of Kogi BBQ] as they eat at a Korean restaurant and discuss how Koreans weren’t a group that looked to change their food habits to appease Americans. Koreans let Americans come around to them. Read More
Came across the story on this move a few minutes ago and wanted to share it with you. As immigration reform continues to be a headline and restructuring of ethnic categories continues during our gradual demographic shift, some new labels are being created and existing ones being thrown out. The Associated Press, Read More
A California based campaign looking to ensure healthcare for undocumented youth, whether of Asian, Latino or other origin. Watch their video now, campaign details after the break.
For many the break down of what’s considered Hispanic can be a confusing one. It’s definitely left the census confused and with immigration being one of the largest topics for legislature a closer look. With Hispanics, they can fit into a number of various races and recently a good number of them via the census have categorized themselves as some other race. This confusion has the census looking into collapsing the race and ethnicity questions into one looking to clarify origin. It’s led Hispanics to almost become a de facto race. This isn’t the first time this has happened as European immigrants from years ago have grown into what we know as ‘white’ in America. Hit the jump to see some insight on this issue. Let us know your thoughts on the article in the comments section. Read More