Tag Archives: Immigrants

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021

Change is never easy. Especially when the change is overcoming and dealing with cultural, racial, and religious stereotypes.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. King was one of many who fought for equality. Though his ultimate goal was equality for African-Americans, it spread to the rest of the country. Women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other Americans of color who have been disenfranchised heard his message and understood exactly what he was saying.

Though we can proudly say that we have made progress in the multiple decades since he was taken from us, it is more than clear that true equality is still too far off for many. I remember a cartoon in a book when I was in school. The image was of a tree had been cut at its base, but the roots were untouched. The analogy about racism and prejudice was obvious.

The fact is that we have a long way to do. Between the riot in DC almost two weeks ago and the murders of multiple African Americans last year, the dark side of the United States revealed itself in a way that was opening.

What Dr. King started almost a century ago, we have to finish. It is the only way to make his dream a reality.

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I’m Writing You from Tehran: A Granddaughter’s Search for Her Family’s Past and Their Country’s Future Book Review

I don’t know about anyone else, but as the descendant of immigrants, there is a part of me that longs to know about the world my family knew before they came to the United States. But with no one alive to share those stories and that world long gone, it can be seen through documents and the work of fiction.

French-Iranian journalist Delphine Minoui does not need to jump through such hoops. The only thing she needs to do is buy a plane ticket.

Her new book, I’m Writing You from Tehran: A Granddaughter’s Search for Her Family’s Past and Their Country’s Future was published in the spring.

Translated by Emma Ramadan, the book is a memoir of the ten years that she lived in Iran. In the late 1990s, she was in her twenties and brand new to the world of journalism. She was also mourning for her recently passed grandfather. Her stay in Tehran was supposed to be a short ten-day trip. It eventually turned into a decade long residency.

During the course of that decade, Minoui doesn’t just live in Tehran. As her journalistic instincts kick in, she experiences everything the city and the country offer at that time. By the time she leaves Iran, she has grown in ways she could not have imagined

I really liked this book. It shows that Iran is much more than it is perceived to be in the headlines. Which frankly, sometimes don’t tell the whole story. Each chapter is a letter to her grandfather, describing in vivid detail what day to day life was like for Minoui.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Let’s Talk About #JewishPrivilege

Antisemitism is a disease that has haunted humanity for thousands of years. Just when we think it has finally died down forever, it rears its ugly head once more.

This past week, the hashtag #JewishPrivilege has been circulating throughout Twitter in response to false and age old accusations. I’d like to talk about my own so called “#JewishPrivilege”.

  1. If this privilege includes having relations that were among the 6 million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust, I want none of it.

2. My immigrant ancestors came to America in the early 20th century with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry. No one helped them to become upwardly mobile, they had to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Whatever “privilege” someone thought they had clearly did not exist.

3. I wouldn’t define privilege of having to hire security during religious services. Or seeing the shootings in Poway or Pittsburgh in the news.

4. Privilege is not defined as hearing about nearly 1400 brothers and sisters of your faith murdered in their homeland due to lies and hate.

5. If privilege is constantly watching Israel being attacked in the press and in the UN for so called “crimes against humanity” while other countries receive a slap on the wrist, that is not “privilege”.

Privilege is defined as: special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

Whoever thinks that the Jews are privileged needs to get their heads out the sand and read a history book.

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American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power Book Review

One of the beautiful things about American culture, is that one’s status within the society is not static. There are opportunities to grow beyond the circumstances of one’s birth. Unfortunately, with those opportunities, comes the risk that not every business venture is on the up and up.

Journalist and Trump, Inc. host Andrea Bernstein recently published her new book, American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power. In the book, she starts with the immigrant roots of both families and ends with the current economic and political state of her subjects. Utilizing interviews, hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, Bernstein draws a picture of two families who would do anything (and I mean anything) to get a powerful place and stay in power.

This book is an eye-opener. Those of us who are news junkies are fully aware of the current press that surrounds both families, but the past press is often overlooked. The thing is about this book, is that it can be seen as partisan, depending on your perspective. As a Democrat who is more than ready to see you know who out of office, this book confirms everything that I believe about the current administration.

I recommend it.

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The Golden Girls Character Review: Sophia Petrillo

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Golden GirlsRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Golden Girls.  to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to women of a certain age, the impression is that time have taken their toll. At this point in their lives, they are living quietly, without the excitement of their younger years. Sophia Petrillo (the late Estelle Getty) on The Golden Girls proved that women of a certain age do not lose their lust for life just because their younger years are behind them.

Sophia was born in the first few years of the 20th century in Sicily. One of three children, she immigrated to New York as a teenager. After the death of her husband and being hospitalized for a stroke, Sophia moved in with her daughter, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur).

The stroke took away Sophia’s ability to censure herself. This often led to conversations that ended with Dorothy threatening to send her mother back to the home. “Shady Pines, Ma” was often heard out of the mouth of an exasperated Dorothy.

Though she openly mocks her housemates, Sophia loves them as if they all were her flesh and blood. It is that love that sustains her, especially after Dorothy re-marries and moves in with her new husband.

To sum it up: It would be easy to create a character of a certain age who has taken a back seat to life. It is harder to create the same character, especially if she is female, with the same vibrancy and joie de vivre as a younger woman. Fans of The Golden Girls love Sophia because she is sassy, she is smart, but most of all, she loves her daughter.

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Who is Going to Pay For the Wall? America!

Politicians are notorious for making campaign promises that are just that.

During the 2016 Presidential election, you know who made the following statement over and over again.

“Mexico will pay for the wall.”

The reality is that Mexico will not be paying for the wall. America will pay for the wall.

Last week, press reports stated that billions of dollars that were earmarked for various military projects will be used to pay for the wall.

So much for campaign promises. I guess he is a politician after all. Maybe now we have a chance of getting him out of office in 2020.

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If You Must Read One Book This Labor Day, Read Common Sense and a Little Fire, Second Edition: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965

In the working world, there are certain things that we are used to: a reasonable wage, a set number of working hours, a safe working environment, etc. But it was not so long ago that it took mass protests and generations of union workers demanding their rights for these to happen.

If you must read one book this Labor Day, I highly recommend Common Sense and a Little Fire, Second Edition: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965 by Annelise Orleck. Telling the story of Rose Schneiderman, Fannia Cohn, Clara Lemlich Shavelson and Pauline Newman, Ms. Orleck tells the story of how four immigrant women created and defined the labor movement for their time and for our time.

I think this book is important to read, especially today, because many of us have off today. We take for granted the rights that we have as employees, especially those of us who are protected and supported by a union. In the time of the women whose stories are told in the book, joining a union and protesting at best meant being professionally blacklisted and at worst, meant a trip to the hospital after being beaten during a protest.

These four women and many others paved the way for the working world that many of us know of today. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing today, if you have a chance to read this book today, I highly recommend that you do.

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Thoughts on the Latest Immigration Mishaps

Unlike other nations, the United States has a reputation of not being so homogeneous. Most, if not all Americans (unless one is of Native-American descent), can trace their family history to at least one member of their family who was born somewhere else.

You know who and his administration seem to be determined to destroy all that.

Last week, ICE raided several meat processing plants in Mississippi. Hundreds of employees were arrested, many of who are not in the country legally. Among those arrested and detained, a good amount are also parents, leaving their children without a stable parental support system.

Watching these clips breaks my heart. One would have to be inhuman (or without a heart) to not feel something for these kids.

What I find disturbing is that while the company’s owners get off scot free and continue to rake in profits, their employees are targeted for potentially not entering the country legally. And of course, the company had a job fair to fill the jobs that have been left vacant.

One does not risk everything and leave the country of their birth to start over in a new country for shits and giggles. More than a century ago, members of my family left Eastern Europe because of the three p’s: prejudice, poverty and pogroms. The stories of these immigrants may not be the same as my family’s story, but their reason is the same.

To add insult to injury, new immigrants who are currently receiving some sort of public assistance may be denied green cards. Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director Citizenship and Immigration Services defended this decision by rewriting The New Colossus.

America has been and always will be the land of immigrants. It does not matter if one immigrated yesterday, two generations ago, or five generations ago. We are all related to immigrants. Until we appreciate and respect that notion, we will continue to disregard our history and the national ideals that we claim to be proud of.

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Thoughts On Independence Day

For most of the world, the 4th of July is just another day. But for the United States, is our Independence Day.

I am proud to be an American, in spite of our flaws. I am proud to live in a country in which my rights as an individual are respected. I am free to worship as I choose, to ask questions of my government and freely protest when I disagree with their actions. I am free to speak openly without fear of reprisal. This is the land of opportunity, a country in which someone who is born poor has the potential to die rich.

This is a land that opened her door and her arms to million of immigrants (including members of my own family) who were fleeing poverty, persecution and lack of freedom. This is a land in which generations of soldiers have fought and died for.

This is a land that after speaking of the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.We have and continue to right the wrongs of our past by protecting and opening doors to those who in past generations were denied because of who they were.

Happy Independence Day, wherever you are.

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So Chain Migration Is Only Acceptable When It Comes To Your Family?

Chain migration is defined as follows: “movement in which prospective migrants learn of opportunities, are provided with transportation, and have initial accommodation and employment arranged by means of primary social relationships with previous migrants.”

For many years, chain migration has been the way to American citizenship. One member of a family would come to America, settle in and in time bring over the rest of their family.

You know who has included in his anti-immigration policy the banning of chain migration. Except, that is, when it comes to his own family.

It was announced today that his in-laws have become citizens. They became citizens via chain migration.

So, basically, chain migration, like immigration to the US in general, is bad, Except, that is, when it comes to his family. Then it’s fine.

I hope I am not the only one who sees the complete hypocrisy in this latest bit of news. It just adds one more reason why he is unfit for the Presidency.

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