Can we stop using Spanish for migrant services?

Before I go any further let me be clear that I am not arguing against the use of Spanish generally. Nor am I arguing against providing Spanish translations in public spaces. My concern is about the conflation of Hispanics and migrants.

I had the pleasure of being educated in bilingual classrooms during my early childhood. My entire life I have alternated between English and Spanish. When I have kids (I can dream!) I plan to educate them in both languages plus either Chinese or Japanese. I absolutely love Spanish. However I often worry that it has become too prevalent among migrant circles.

When I visit migrant groups I notice many of them have Spanish names or sprinkle Spanish slogans among their material. The worst instances of this is when ‘la raza’, the race, is used as reference to the pan Hispanic community. I can understand why they do so, Hispanic migrants probably find such gestures to be in good will and are more willing to seek help when they need it. What however of non-Hispanic migrants?

We, Hispanic migrants, often make fun of white Americans for thinking that all Hispanics (plus Brazilians!) must be Mexicans.”Guatemala? Where is that in Mexico?” Yet we fall into the same trap of thinking that all migrants are Hispanics. How must Asian or African migrants feel when they search for help but are surrounded by Spanish? It is hard enough to learn one new language, let alone two.

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. As the name suggests the area has a sizeable Korean population. I interacted with them all the time, except when it came to migrant related events. Their absence was particularly notable in services for undocumented/illegal aliens. Koreans, unknown to most, make up a significant share of undocumented migrants. You’ll rarely see them at events though. Part of it is a taboo about discussing the issue in the Asian migrant community. I can’t help but feel that it is also that we, Hispanic migrants, have made them feel unwelcome in our groups.

If migrant groups care about inclusion they should avoid the use of Spanish where possible. By the same account, can we please stop linking Cinco de Mayo and other Hispanic-linked things with all migrants. By all means have Spanish translations of your material, but also have translations in Korean, Chinese, etc etc.

Migration from Bangladesh: Impulses, Risks and Exploitations

Migration and emigration from Bangladesh is a pervasive phenomenon. Historically, large-scale migration from the region constituting the present Bangladesh started after tea plantations were introduced to Assam by the British in the early 19th century. Gradually, the number of migrants from this region increased due to geographic location, climate change and poverty. Over the years, there has been a change in the gender pattern of migration, where the proportion of female migrants has increased significantly. These migrants play a significant role in the Bangladesh economy, as remittances constituted about 8.21% of gross domestic product in 2014. This article examines why, despite the many dangers that the migrants face, including violence in the host countries and exploitation by their ‘masters’, the number of migrants from Bangladesh continues to rise constantly.

That’s the abstract from my latest paper (pdf), published in The Round Table.

Про политику народных волнений в России

С недавних пор в России стала очень популярна новая форма диалога с властью, которая получила название “народный сход”. В последнее время подобные акции случаются все чаще и чаще и носят все более спонтанный характер. Как правило, это несанкционированные митинги, которые зачастую переростают в погромы и столкновения с полицией. Буквально несколько дней назад в Москве прошел такой народный сход на волне резонансного убийства одного из местных жителей мигрантом с Кавказа.

Не буду рассказывать про толерантность, терпимость к незаконной миграции и засилью приезжих с Кавказа. Местное население устало, правительство считает, что “все нормально”. Другое дело, что градус эмоционального накала уже настолько высок, что достаточно малейшей вспышки, чтобы произошел взрыв. Район, в котором произошло убийство, славится своей овощной базой, которая по мнению местных жителей является центром этнической преступности. Не сложно догадаться, во что вылился народный сход: погром овощной базы, перевернутые автомобили, столкновения с полицией, 400 арестованных и так далее и тому подобное.

Убийцу-то поймали в конечном итоге. Но самое интересное не в этом. После народных волнений началась массовая проверка приезжих и незаконных мигрантов, несколько полицейских чиновников лишились своих мест…

Неужели власти надо каждый раз давать пинок под зад, чтобы она поняла: у населения кончается терпение. Как осел – пока не повесишь морковь перед носом, он никуда не пойдет. В данном случае роль морковки выполняют народные сходы. Это грустно.