Tag Archives: Immigration

America, Racist and Revolutionary Both

In America, Jamaican immigrant Claude McKay reminds America what makes it great, even as he exposes its dark side.

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Tolstoy on Resisting a Narcissist

If Trump is like Napoleon in Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” can he be defeated by popular resistance, as he is in Tolstoy’s novel?

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Dear Trump: America Contains Multitudes

To celebrate July 4, do not listen to Donald Trump, who preaches paranoia and exclusion. Read Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” His America contains multitudes.

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On Reading Pride & Prejudice 100 Times

Teaching a classic too regularly can lead to its losing its luster for the teacher. I share how I keep that from happening.

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Brown & Gold & Blood vs. Trumpian White

In the face of white nationalists, we need poems like Fatima Asghar’s celebration of South Asian diversity in America to remind us who we really are.

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Our Version of Plague Maddened Villagers

Donald Trump’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act and on immigrants could well end up hurting many of his supporters. A similar irony is described in Geraldine Brooks’s “Year of Wonders,” where 17th century villagers, maddened by the plague, kill two midwives.

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Must Dreamers “Hibernate” Again?

Ellison’s Invisible Man must retreat to a hole–or, as he calls it, hibernate–after getting banged around by reality. With Trump as president, will the Dreamers and others who benefitted from Obama’s prosecutorial discretion have to hibernate as well, returning back to the shadows?

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Satanic Trump Unleashing Dark Forces

When Donald Trump excited the alt-right with his Wednesday night speech promising to deport all undocumented immigrants, he reminded me of Milton’s Satan inspiring Sin and Death after engineering the Fall.

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America’s Dream: We Contain Multitudes

My Trinidadian daughter-in-law today becomes an American citizen. I welcome her with an excerpt from Whitman’s “Song of Myself” that contains multitudes.

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Immigrants Touched by Grace

Philip Levine gives us a poem which serves as a reproof to those in the GOP who bash immigrants. We see much needed moments of humanity, important to remember in this election season.

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On the Pope, Walls, and Robinson Crusoe

Pope Francis recently labeled as “not Christian” those who build walls but not bridges. By this standard, the walls, both literal and metaphorical, being advocated by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz bring their own Christianity in doubt. An examination of the walls build by Robinson Crusoe, however, shows how Christians have rationalized walls.

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Fences Entrap Rather than Protect

“Robinson Crusoe” functions as a parable about America’s fear of immigrants.

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Steinbeck Described Anti-Migrant Protests

The social unrest caused by the flood of immigrants crossing the American border is described in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

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Learning to Love America

A poem for the 4th of July on how immigrants come to love America.

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High above Flood & Fire Ye Held the Scroll

Emma Lazarus writes a Statue of Liberty-type poem celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

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America, An Immigrant Nation

Opponents of the Dream Act should reread the lines on the Statue of Liberty.

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Putting a Human Face on Immigrants

“A Better Life” puts a human face on illegal immigrants, something the United States sorely needs.

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Grapes of Wrath Fermenting in Alabama

Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” allows us to see some of the dynamics that the tough new anti-immigration law in Alabama has set into play.

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Refugees Dropped in a Fantastic Terrain

As I watch the brutal repression currently underway in Syria, I am reminded of Syrian-American poet Mohja Kahf’s poem about her family fleeing to America from Assad’s father in 1971.

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Whitman & Hughes Hear America Singing

Today, for July 4, I offer up two ultra-American poems. Walt Whitman embraces multitudes” in “I Hear America Singing,” and Langston Hughes, in an addendum, mentions some of those Americans that, in the past, have been forgotten. May we all remember that America is astounding in its willingness to open itself to all people.

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An Inhumane Immigration System

A Hollywood ending to “The Visitor” would shield the viewer from a tragedy that is re-enacted hundreds of times daily in detention centers around this country. Instead, we are given the stark reality.

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America Encourages the Vagabond Self

Looking at the United States from the vantage point of Iran, Nafisi writes that it was America’s vagrant nature that she connected to. She writes that America “somehow encourages this vagabond self.”

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The Immigrant’s Choice

Adrienne Rich has a well-known poem that is powerful in large part because it captures, simply and directly, the immigrant’s plight. Rich depicts immigration as a stark choice—either one goes through the door or one doesn’t. The decision has immense ramifications, both positive and negative.

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Bread, Chocolate, & Immigrant Self-Hatred

While watching Franco Brusati’s 1976 film Bread and Chocolate about Italian immigrant workers, I thought about how our own Latino and Latina immigrants must see both the United States and themselves. Do they reject their own cultures and idealize those of America? How does the anti-immigrant feeling evinced by parts of America enter into how the newcomers see themselves? Is there this same mixture of envy and self-loathing?

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Mothers “Dropping” Babies?!

First, congratulations to Elena Kagan for being the fourth woman chosen to the U. S. Supreme Court. I have written about Kagan’s love for Pride and Prejudice here, as well as the reasons why, given a choice, it’s better to have a Pride and Prejudice lover than a Wuthering Heights lover on the Court (click […]

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Our New Poet Laureate

W. S. Merwin  A very fine poet, W. S. Merwin, has been named our new poet laureate. Because he was a friend of my former colleague Lucille Clifton, I was able to meet Merwin when he visited St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He lives in Hawaii and has been working hard to preserve their rain […]

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Fences, Good Neighbors, and Immigration

Will America’s most famous poem about fences give us any insight into the border problems we are currently experiencing with Mexico? Let’s take a look at it and find out. The poem I have in mind is, of course, Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall.” Here it is:

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