Stories from Quick Reads and Migration & Immigration
Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:
AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?
Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.
I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.
I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.
The perils of crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are well documented, but for thousands of undocumented migrants from Central America, crossing Mexico is even more dangerous.
To reach the US border, undocumented migrants from Central America undertake a dangerous 1,500-mile trip through Mexico, where they risk being kidnapped, assaulted or killed by the drug cartels, gangs and even the police. What happens in that journey?
This animation will take you through that journey, explaining the threats that migrants face to reach the “safety” of the US.
What is it like to be gay in the Caribbean? The Travelling Trini occasionally gets emails from young gay Trinidadians who “have the burning desire to go abroad, travel, and see the world”. She deduces that this wanderlust stems from the fact that “the Caribbean is a incredibly homophobic place with a raging macho-man culture, and coming out is an incredibly difficult, and often dangerous, thing to do.”
The post goes on to list several songs that promoted homophobia and gay violence back in the nineties: Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye was unsurprisingly at the top of the heap, but the blogger describes them all as “dark, violent and downright disgusting.” She asks:
Why is it not considered hate speech? Why are radio stations allowed to play it? […] The question is, why is it okay to still be so violently anti-gay in 2015?
She connects this constricted reality with the desire many gay Caribbean people have to migrate and testifies that the Far East, where she currently resides, “is a very gay friendly place, indeed”:
There are thriving gay scenes in every country, from the liberal far east to the conservative Middle East and everywhere in between.
The whole world is not straight. It never has been, and it never will be. […]
Unfortunately these liberal lifestyles are not tolerated in the Caribbean, and are in fact still criminalised under law. There is no legal protection for LGBT citizens […] just as people fought for equal rights based on race, and equal rights based on gender, the next step in our human evolution is equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Europe is fighting its own make-believe enemy”: This is the message that a dozen of associations in defense of migrants wanted to convey when they organized a human chain between the tramway station “Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights)” and the EU Parliament station in Strasbourg on November 26. In order to put Human Rights back at the core of Europe” and oppose the policy adopted by the European Agency of Border Control Frontex, protesters held signs that narrate the tragic plight of migrants trying to reach Europe. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to make the journey from their hometowns into Europe.
Here are a few photos of the event :
Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]
A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.
On April 17, the French government unveiled a national campaign to combat racism and anti-Semitism in France. The objective of the campaign is to fight all prejudices, raise awareness and get citizens engaged in the conversation.
One hundred euros will be allocated over three years to educate and promote cultural diversity. The hashtag #planantiracisme (the plan against racism) was the number one trending topic on Twitter on the day of the announcement.
According to the Report on Racism and Antisemitism by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme CNCDH (National Comission on Human Rights), there was a 30% increase in racist acts in 2014 (from 1,274 in 2013 to 1,662 in 2014). Anti-Semitic acts went from 423 in 2013 to 851 in 2014, including the attack on the kosher store after the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
Following the case of Reina Maraz, a Bolivian Quechua who was detained in Argentina for three years without knowing why, the Court of Buenos Aires province has approved the Registry of Translators for Indigenous Languages.
According to research from the Instituto Nacional de Asuntos Indígenas (National Institute of Indigenous Affairs), during 2004-2005 it recognized the existence of 38 native people communities based on a Complementary Poll of Indigenous Communities from Argentina:
Los pueblos con mayor población a nivel nacional en orden descendente son: el pueblo Mapuche con 113.680, el pueblo Kolla con 70.505 y el pueblo Toba con 69.452 habitantes. En cuanto a los de menor población, se encuentran los pueblos Quechua con 561, los Chulupí con 553, los Sanavirón con 528, los Tapiete con 484 y por último, el pueblo Maimará con 178 habitantes.
Similar registers already exist in Peru, with its Registry of Interpreters of Indigenous and Native Languages, and Bolivia, whose General Law of Linguistic Rights and Policies outlines its main objectives as:
1. Reconocer, proteger, promover, difundir, desarrollar y regular los derechos lingüísticos individuales y colectivos de los habitantes del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.
2. Generar políticas públicas y obligaciones institucionales para su implementación, en el marco de la Constitución Política del Estado, convenios internacionales y disposiciones legales en vigencia.
3. Recuperar, vitalizar, revitalizar y desarrollar los idiomas oficiales en riesgo de extinción, estableciendo acciones para su uso en todas las instancias del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.
President Barack Obama's announcement regarding migratory reform, introduced via executive action, generates, on one hand, relief within the Latino community. On the other hand, however, there are voices expressing discontent. Sonia Tejada explains that, although the measure grants undocumented migrants three-year working permits, that will benefiit five million people, it doesn't guarantees legalizing status nor citizneship. According to Tejada, the measure has created two types of undocumented migrants: those with conditions to be benefited and those who are still at the mercy of the immigration agency. To be benefited by the regulation:
[…] los inmigrantes deben haber residido en el país por cinco años, tener niños, sean ciudadanos estadounidenses o residentes legales, y, por supuesto, no haber delinquido.
[…] migrants should have been living in the country for five years, having children, be American citizens or legal residents and, of course, not having a criminal record.
Sonia also expresses her criticisms to Obama's speech, that she considers penalizes migration:
Obama habló incesantemente de que los EE. UU. es una nación de leyes, y de que los inmigrantes por haber cometido “el crimen” de entrar al país sin documentos ni autorización, deben expurgar su culpa.
Obama talked incessantly that U.S. is a nation of laws, and that migrants, having committed the “crime” of entering the country without documents nor authorization, must make amends.
The measure would be just an incomplete solution, as to be benefited by it, migrants will continue being undocumented, even though with a limited working permit now. Meanwhile, for six million undocumented migrants, uncertainty about their migratory status hasn't changed at all.
You can follow Sonia Tejada on Twitter
In an opinion piece for the American newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Global Voices contributor Jamie Stark wonders, “What kind of parent would pay $10,000 for a stranger to bring a child 1,400 miles through gangland and hostile border crossings? A good parent, perhaps.”
As a concerned citizen about the crisis of migrant children, Stark reflects:
What do we do with these kids? An important decision, to be certain, but one that overlooks the humanity, the story, of each child crossing our border.
When a parent from Central America hears the rumor that children are being allowed to stay in the U.S., it's not so hard to imagine spending life savings of $10,000 to $15,000 for a stranger to guide a son or daughter north.
These kids are not mere statistics. Many never wanted to be here in the first place.
Global Voices has published stories on this issue in the past:
– The Humanitarian Tragedy of Children Emigrating Alone
– An Open Letter to Salvadoran Migrant Children
– Trafficked Ecuadorian Children Pass Through Hell on the Way to the US
Danstan Obara shows how Kenyans can lead a double life in the US:
The American double life starts by making sure that your social security card does not have the stamp that says “Valid for work only with INS authorization”. The things that people do to get rid of this stamp are amazing. I will not go into those details here.
The next step is to walk into an organization or business and apply for a job. You will have to pretend that you are an American, born and raised in America. This can be a very dumb thing to say sometimes because in many cases when you are fresh out of Kenya, it is difficult for anybody to miss the accent. Amazingly almost everybody I know has always gotten away with it. There is a law against racial and ethnic profiling in America so, employers would rather go with the information they are provided with and stick with what they can prove.
Individuals with visiting visas, who opt to extend there stay do not even get the social security cards. What this means is that they cannot legally work anywhere. The things they do are even more hilarious. It is a psychological fact that white people cannot easily differentiate black people. So people simply share identification documents. Imagine of a guy walking into an office to apply for a job with an identification card that has someone else’s photo on it. Once again, not even one person I know has ever been caught.