Sunday, July 22, 2007

Linked Article for the Day

Are Immigrants and Refugees People of Color?

Color Lines by Rinku Sen

"I spend a lot of time with immigrants and refugees from the global south who are not only unfamiliar with the term, “people of color,” but quite hostile to it. Last summer, while I was training immigrant and refugee advocates on racial justice principles, a Somali woman and a Vietnamese man told me that they didn’t relate to the label, and indeed, didn’t think their struggles had anything to do with race. They were Somali and Vietnamese, and they were immigrants. They were disinclined to spend much time figuring out the racial dimensions of anti-immigrant rhetoric or how to make common cause with U.S.-born people of color, especially Blacks and Latinos. I gave the group a little lecture about how identities change through a combination of what happens to you (the external) and how you react to those events (the internal). It can be hard to accept, but a new context demands a new identity–being Indian became far more important to my family here than it was in India, where language, region, religion and caste mattered more. The American context demands an understanding of the country’s racial history and hierarchy. Luckily, the human spirit is flexible enough to hold existing identities while adding elements that help us adapt."

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