Tag Archives: immigration

Rah! Rah! Roundup


“There comes a time in every person of color’s life. Do you stay and become the resident educator, surround yourself with bigots and help them achieve a basic humanitarian skill set? Or do you save your self and your family and move back to a city where diversity is the only fresh air?”–Margaret Elysia Garcia in Hip Mama

Are you an employer of a domestic worker who is being targeted post-election? Here are resources to support the women, people of color and/or immigrants who may work in your home. 

Check out Electric Literature’s “Practical Ways for Writers and Teachers To Get Involved” supporting communities that Donald Trump’s presidency has put at extreme risk.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Rah! Rah! Roundup

Books Breed At Night: An Interview with Toni Nealie

A few days after 9/11, our fifth-grade English teacher had us spend an entire class period writing a fictional story about what happened in New York. Being Minnesotan kids, most of us didn’t understand and couldn’t totally appreciate what happened that day, but we were nevertheless scared of some unknown people from an unknown place attacking our cities. Free-form writing was supposed to be our release.

I remember writing a story about a happy family from India that moved to New York because they loved America in early September 2001. In my story, the family was out sightseeing on 9/11 when the towers went down and their uncle lost his leg because he didn’t run fast enough and was crushed in the rubble (facts/precise detail about what exactly happened was unclear to me at this time). My story ended with the little girl central character visiting her uncle in the hospital where he told her not to be scared, that everybody in America has been nice to him, and that it is the terrorist, not the Americans, she needs to fear. Obviously, a 10-year-old’s story of an immigrant’s 9/11 experience is nothing if not idealistic.

The only thing my fractured story had in common with the essays contained in Toni Nealie’s collection, The Miles Between Me, is this American, post-9/11 fear of “the other.” Moving from New Zealand to the U.S. just two weeks before 9/11, Nealie faced the real struggles of being an “other” in a country so crazed to stand united within itself.

Between these essays on place and what “home” means to someone navigating the rules of citizenship, Nealie’s essays delve even further into the world of motherhood and its peculiar identity, her family’s possible criminal past, to the future she sees for her sons, two boys from the same parents with different skin tones. Nealie’s work offers more insight into the idea of place, home, and family than almost anything you’ll read this year.

Kati Heng: Can you give me a time frame for when these essays were written?

Toni Nealie: They were completed last year, but most originated when I was completing my MFA. Some began ten years ago, but fragments morphed into quite different essays. I’m happy that I kept bad early drafts—line or paragraphs that I coaxed into fully fledged essays.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books + Literature, Interviews

Proving I Love You or I’ll Have Sex In Front of an Immigration Officer for You

albumMy cold hand lands on Laura’s leg while the woman behind us holds her husband’s hands tight, whispering cariñitos to him. We’re here to prove we love each other. To prove this is a true white-picket-fence-two-point-five-children-Christmas-card kind of love, even if it’s homo love. Promises of a better future after this horrid appointment fly in the air in Spanish, Arabic, Russian. Inside the Soviet-looking immigration building Laura and I are literally moscas en leche. Perro en misa. Gallina en corral ajeno, etc. All the couples here are straight. Some even brought their kids, dressed in their Sunday’s best. The children are instructed to shut the fuck up and smile. Arturito, saluda al oficial mi rey. They’re here as evidence. The mamis with their hairs done, nails done, high heels and glossy lipstick. Men with gelled black hair, black button-down shirts with a few open buttons revealing gold crosses, chest hair. Legs crossed impossibly tight, smiling at every and any immigration officer walking through. Good afternoon, Mr. Officer. Nobody speaks loudly, we all hush and whisper and hold tight to our brown folders, our photo albums.

Porque mamita, you never know.
Continue reading


Filed under Everything Else