Tag Archives: Immigration

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*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television

Journeys: An American Story Book Review

The story of America is the story of immigration. It is also the story of those who oppose immigration.

Journeys: An American Story, was published last year. Edited by Andrew Tisch and Mary Skafidas, the book is a compilation of immigrant stories. The stories of immigration range from the earliest days of the United States to the present. Those interviewed can trace their families to every part of the globe and range from the well known to the average person on the street.

I enjoyed reading this book. I live in a country and a world that looks down on immigrants, especially those fleeing poverty and persecution. If nothing else, this book reaffirms the idea that instead of punishing immigrants or forcing them out, we should welcome them with open arms. If we prevent them from coming, we may never know what their descendants may accomplish.

I recommend it.

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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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America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families Book Review

America’s story, as a whole, is made up of millions of individual stories of immigrants. Unfortunately, there are some who for political reasons, conveniently forget these stories. But there are others in the corridors of power who are determined that new generations of immigrants are given the opportunities as past immigrants.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) is determined to not only keep these stories alive, he is equally determined to remind Americans about the inhuman treatment that those who wish to become Americans are experiencing. In his new book, America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families, Senator Merkley writes about his first hand experience at the border. In visiting migrants who are forced into what are essentially internment camps, where children are separated from their parents, he reveals the hard truth that we, as a country, must face.

As I see it, there are too many politicians these days who are too willing to bury their heads in the sand or to further their careers. I admire Senator Merkley for speaking up and reminding us that, according to his must read book, America is better than this.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On the First Night of the Second Round of Democratic Debates

Last night, the first night of the second round of the Democratic nominees aired on CNN. Over the course of three hours, the nominees debated, argued and did their best to prove why they should go against you know who next fall.

I have a few thoughts about last night.

  • As much as I would like to say that Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) will be our first Jewish-American President, I don’t think he will be the nominee. From my perspective, his plan can best be summed up as a Monet. He didn’t do anything for me during the 2016 Presidential Election and does not do anything for me now. But, he did have the best one-liners.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said nothing new or different than she has said before. This round of debates are do or die for the candidates. While the Senator had many good talking points, nothing she said inspired me.
  • Marianne Williamson surprised me. I didn’t think much of her during the previous debate. But last night, she sounded like a candidate who might have a shot winning the nomination. However, her limited political experience bothers me. Not that there is anything wrong with a political newbie, but given the lack of previous political experience of you know who, I would feel more comfortable with a candidate who has at least some experience in government.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) stood out. I read her as a centrist Democrat who is able to walk the fine line of holding true to the ideals of the party while appealing to all Americans. I honestly believe that the ideal Democratic candidate to go against you know who is a centrist Democrat whose appeal goes well beyond the party’s base.
  • I don’t agree that immigrants whose status is labelled illegal should just be handed health insurance. Let them pay in, either out of their own pockets or via taxes and enroll in one of the government insurances. I’ve spoken on past posts about my immigrant forebears. They came to this country for the same reasons more than a century ago for the same reason that immigrants are coming today. My forebears did not ask for a handout. They only asked for an opportunity, which what they were given. We should be giving these immigrants the same opportunities that past generations of immigrants were given.

Those are my opinions. Readers, what do you think? What moment or quote stood out to you from last night?

P.S. Did anyone else notice that everyone on stage last night was Caucasian? All of the nominees of color are debating tonight.

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Filed under Movies, Politics, Television, Thoughts On....

A Sign of the Times: Border Patrol Targets American Citizens

The general idea of law enforcement is to protect the average citizen and ensure that the those who are breaking the law are removed from society. Their job is not target and/or arrest someone because of his or her religion, cultural background or family history.

When it comes to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, their job is specifically to protect our borders. Their job is not to harass citizens.

Back in February, Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez, two Latina-Americans who live in Montana were stopped by border patrol and asked to show ID. They were stopped not because they were suspected of committing a crime. They were stopped because they were speaking Spanish. Both women are American citizens. There is a lawsuit pending against the officer who stopped them.

Last month, 18 year old Francisco Erwin Galicia, an American citizen and a Dallas native, was detained by immigration officials for a month before he was released. He stopped and arrested along with his younger brother. Mr. Galicia was released but his younger brother was eventually sent to Mexico and is residing with his grandmother.

This is not the United States that I know and love. We do not treat immigrants (or anyone else for that matter) like animals and second class citizens. We should not target American citizens and send them to another country because we assume that based on their mother tongue and/or surname, that they are not citizens.

It’s time to stop this madness before we ruin everything that is good about America and the American democracy.

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Mitch McConnell Could Not Defend His Wife, I Doubt That He Can Defend This Country

If you can, please imagine the following scenario. You are one half of an interracial or inter-religious couple. Someone whom you work with and are in frequent company with makes what can only be described as a racist comment. Do you let the comment slide and make excuses for this person? Or do you stand up for your spouse/significant other and your relationship?

It is my opinion that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has sold his soul to you know who in order to retain his position. After the blatantly racist comments that you know who made via twitter over the weekend, Senator McConnell made the following statement to the press:

“The president’s not a racist,” McConnell said. “And I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country. But it’s coming from all ideological points of view. To single out any segment of this I think is a mistake.”

The sad irony of his statement is that his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was born in China and immigrated to the United States as a child. She became a United States citizen at the age of 19. She is an example of the immigrant that you know who would, if he had his way, prevent from entering this country.

Politics aside, I would hope that Senator McConnell would defend his wife and his marriage. He may have done so in private, but these days, that conversation is worth nothing. It is the public statement condemning racism in all it’s forms that matters. But given his vague and slap on the wrist comment, I doubt that the Senator would actually defend this country if it came to it.

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The Following Statement was Made by the President of the United States: “Go Back to Where You Came From”

There are some people in this country who still believe that the United States is a white, Christian nation. According to these people, anyone who does not fit into both of those categories is either ineligible to be an American or is only fit to be labeled as a second class citizen.

Among these people is the President of the United States.

Over the weekend, he tweeted the following statement about four Democratic Congresswomen: go back to where you came from. The targets of this tweet were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). All four of them are freshman members of Congress and women of color. The incorrect irony of his tweet is that three of the four targeted Congresswomen are natural born American citizens. Ilhan Omar is the only one who was actually born in another country and immigrated as a child. She has been a citizen for nearly twenty years.

The truth of America’s history is that we have always been a multi-cultural nation. Unfortunately, that truth has been hidden to ensure that only a small minority have access to the American dream. Due to decades of hard work and soul searching, we have finally started to open the door to those who have been systematically disenfranchised and make amends for our collective sins.

The question now is, where do we, as a nation go from here? Do we let this racist used car salesman drag us back into the past? Or do we continue to walk the high road and work toward the ideal society that our founding fathers created when they broke from the British over 200 years ago?

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It Does Not Say “Tell Them Not To Come” on the Statue of Liberty

For generations, millions of new immigrants passed by the State of Liberty as the United States came into view. Carved into the statue are the words of Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not say anywhere within the poem, “tell them not to come”.

Those are the words of the man who Americans elected to lead us in 2016.

What are these migrants supposed to do? Stay in a country in which violence, destruction and hunger is the norm? Watch as their children starve or die from gang violence? Just hand over their sons to the gangs to fill their ranks? Give their daughters to the gangs to become sexual playthings?

What would you do if you were in their shoes? Would you just stay or make the dangerous trek to America, hoping that the United States provides the safety and freedom that does not exist in your home country?

Past generations have left their homelands for America for the same reason that these people are leaving for America. It’s time to tell the administration to stop this persecution of Central American immigrants and treat them as human beings.

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It’s One Thing to Detain Migrants Temporarily, It’s Another Thing to Treat Them as Sub-Human

The United States has the unique distinction among the countries of the world to have citizens whose ancestry is from everywhere. There is no other country in which multiple people can say that somewhere on their family tree, a relative was born somewhere else and made their way to America.

The problem is that many forget this fact.

Pictures released over the last couple of days have revealed inhuman conditions that migrants are being held in at our Southern border.

These are human beings who are being treated as sub-human. Even if they may have technically broken the law, they did not leave their homes and families for sh*ts and giggles. They left dangerous conditions and trekked hundreds if not thousands of miles with the hope that the United States would provide refuge and opportunity.

What is worse is that these migrants are not single adults. They are families with young children, many of whom have been separated from the adults they depend on. This is not only a travesty of justice, it is a travesty of human rights and everything that is wrong with the world.

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