Category Archives: immigration

Quoted: The New York Times On U.S. Servicemen and Their Mixed-Race Children in the Philippines

Jimmy and Merlie “Pinky” Edwards, circa 1975. Image courtesy of Edwards family.

Take Pinky. In 1974, her father, Jimmy Edwards, was a 22-year-old sailor aboard a United States Navy ship visiting the Philippines, 9,000 miles away from his hometown, Kinston, N.C. He fell in love with a Filipina named Merlie Daet, who gave birth to their daughter, Pinky. Mr. Edwards had hoped to marry Merlie, but as a sailor, he could not marry a foreigner without his captain’s consent. The captain refused. Despite his best efforts over the years, Mr. Edwards was unable to find Pinky (or Merlie).

Until 2005, that is. USA Bound, a now defunct nonprofit organization that reconnected Filipino children with their American fathers, told Mr. Edwards that it had found Pinky. He flew to the Philippines, only to find her living in poverty in a cinder-block hut in the mountains with her husband and five children. Determined to give her a better life, he sought United States citizenship for her.

To his surprise, it was too late. Although by birthright, children born out of wedlock to an American father and a foreign mother are entitled to United States citizenship, they must file paternity certifications no later than their 18th birthday to get it. But since the military bases in the Philippines have been closed for over 20 years, virtually all Filipino “Amerasians” — a term coined by the author and activist Pearl S. Buck to describe children of American servicemen and Asian mothers — have passed that age.

Stories like Pinky’s are legion. Amerasians in the Philippines substantially outnumber those living in neighboring countries, with recent estimates as high as 250,000.
– From “The Forgotten Amerasians,” by Christopher M. Lapinig

Open Table Call: On Race and Arrested Development

By Arturo R. García

The cast of “Arrested Development.” Image via jta.org

Like a lot of people this holiday weekend, I powered through all 15 episodes of the fourth season of Arrested Development. (Apparently I’m one of just 10 percent of viewers who finished the whole run by sundown. I don’t know if this is an honorific or a red flag.)

And as it turns out, there’s quite a bit to go through as regards the series’ treatment of people who aren’t the Bluths. But I want to try something a little different from our open threads — I’d like to crowd-source some reactions to some of the various depictions we saw this year. Spoilers and general guidelines under the cut.
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The Hippocratic Oath Doesn’t Apply To Undocumented Immigrants

By Andrea Plaid

hospital sign

Even as the Drop The I-Word campaign and their partners celebrate the good news about the Los Angeles Times and the Denver Post dropping the i-word, US hospitals are quietly dropping off undocumented immigrants who need life-saving long-term health care in the countries they emigrated from in order to keep down costs.

According to both NPR and Huffington Post, these healthcare facilities have sent about 600 people back under the system of “medical repatriation” in the last five years. Under this, the hospitals put the stabilized, and usually unconscious, patients on a chartered international flights–which the facilities are willing to pay for–back to their former home countries.

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Race + Comics: The Man Of Steel Trailer And Fans’ Super-Xenophobia

By Arturo R. García

Since the release of the new trailer for Man Of Steel, there’s been increased hope among many Superman fans that the Christopher Nolan/Zack Snyder collaboration will bring luster back to the character’s cinematic incarnation.

But some fans’ idea of how they want the character’s bicultural nature to play out paints yet another disconcerting picture of geekdom’s self-styled “colorblindness.”

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The New York Times Refuses To Drop The I-Word (VIDEO)

By Andrea Plaid

You would think that 70,000 people asking for the exact same thing would change someone’s mind, right?

Not if you’re the New York Times.

On April 23, members of Applied Research Center’s Drop The I-Word (DTIW) Campaign (in full disclosure: I work as the campaign’s new manager), its partners, and its supporters gathered at the newspaper’s headquarters in Times Square with the 70,000-strong petition asking the Grey Lady to get with the times and eliminate using the word “illegals” and “illegal immigrant(s)” in its reporting of undocumented immigrants. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, co-founder of partnering organization Define American, and Fernando Chavez, son of the late Cesar Chavez, delivered the petition that was started by Chavez’s widow, Helen, at MoveOn.org (another DTIW partner). The petition’s delivery took place on the 20th anniversary of the social-justice activist’s death.

Video activist Jay Smooth captured the action and explains the context of the campaign:

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Open Thread: The Boston Marathon Bombings, The Boston Manhunt, And The Race To Racism

By Andrea Plaid

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg observes a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts April 17, 2013. This is the first sporting event to be held in Boston after the explosions that killed three and injured more than one hundred at the Boston Marathon. Image via Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Landov

Different city, same racism.

Boston, as you may know, suffered from two bomb blasts during its marathon bearing its name this past Monday. As the city struggles to recover from this recent tragedy, we’re getting reports that the alleged bombers got into a shootout with law enforcement overnight–including throwing explosives–that moved through Cambridge and Watertown. According to reports, one of the suspects died in the shootout, and the police are waging a large manhunt for the other one. All of this has locked down the city, the reports continue, with MIT, Harvard, and public schools  shut down, public transportation suspended,  air space restricted, and advisories to the residents to stay indoors.

What we’re also finding out is about the suspects themselves: the police killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the shootout and are looking for his brother Dzhokar. The siblings come from the Russian Federation country of Chechnya, in the Caucus region. The brothers are, literally, Caucasians–which, in the US, is the (inaccurate) synonym for white people in general.

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The Stigma Of Immigrant Languages

By Guest Contributor Calvin N. Ho; originally published at Sociological Images

Photo by Lulu Vision (Flickr/Creative Commons)

As an undergraduate majoring in linguistics, I was fascinated with the concept of endangered languages. Colonization, genocide, globalization, and nation-building projects have killed off untold numbers of languages. As linguist K. David Harrison (my undergrad advisor) tells NPR, speakers of stigmatized or otherwise less-favored languages are pressured to abandon their native tongue for the dominant language of the nation and the market (emphasis mine):

The decision to give up one language or to abandon a language is not usually a free decision. It’s often coerced by politics, by market forces, by the educational system in a country, by a larger, more dominant group telling them that their language is backwards and obsolete and worthless.

These same pressures are at work in immigrant-receiving countries like the United States, where young immigrants and children of immigrants are quickly abandoning their parents’ language in favor of English.

Immigrant languages in the United States generally do not survive beyond the second generation. In his study of European immigrants, Fishman (1965) found that the first generation uses the heritage language fluently and in all domains, while the second generation only speaks it with the first generation at home and in limited outside contexts. As English is now the language with which they are most comfortable, members of the second generation tend to speak English to their children, and their children have extremely limited abilities in their heritage language, if any. Later studies (López 1996 andPortes and Schauffler 1996 among them) have shown this three-generation trend in children of Latin American and Asian immigrants, as well.

The languages that most immigrants to the U.S. speak are hardly endangered. A second-generation Korean American might not speak Korean well, and will not be speaking that language to her children, but Korean is not going to disappear anytime soon–there are 66.3 million speakers (Ethnologue)! Compare that with the Chulym language of Siberia, which has less than 25.

Even if they’re not endangered per se, I would argue that they are in danger. While attitudes towards non-English languages in the U.S. seem to be improving, at least among wealthier and better-educated people in some more diverse cities and suburbs, the stigma of speaking a non-English language still exists.

How many of you have:

  • been embarrassed to speak your heritage language in front of English speakers?
  • been reprimanded for speaking your heritage language in school?
  • been told to “go back to [country X]” when someone overhears you speak your heritage language?

I’ve heard innumerable stories about parents refusing to speak their native language to their children. Usually, the purported rationale is that they do not want the child to have language or learning difficulties, a claim that has been debunked over and over again by psychologists, linguists, and education scholars.

I’m sure that these parents truly believe that speaking only English to their children will give them an edge, though the reverse is true. What I wonder is how much this decision had to do with an unfounded belief about cognition and child development, and how much it had to do with avoiding the stigma of speaking a language that marks you as foreign, and as “backwards and obsolete and worthless”?

Calvin N. Ho is a graduate student in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles studying immigration, race/ethnicity/nationalism, and Asian diasporas.  You can follow him at The Plaid Bag Connection and on Twitter.

Google’s Cesar Chavez Tribute Draws Fools Out One Day Early

By Arturo R. García

Google’s front page display for March 31 honoring civil rights leader Cesar Chavez

A deeply religious man who worked tirelessly to help the less fortunate was publicly acknowledged by Google on Easter Sunday. And a bunch of self-described Christians had a problem with this.

I’m referring, of course, to César Chávez.
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