Friday, January 15, 2016

When we can all sing America

Guest: Deepa Iyer, leading racial justice activist and author of a new book, "We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape our Multiracial Future," talks about the consequence of modern day terrorism: the ongoing, state-sanctioned persecution of immigrant peoples.

Deepa Iyer's new book is filled with stories about racism in America. During my interview, she told me that everyone comes to this country with a different history, and that no ethnic group has exactly the same memories. Some were escaping the wars that the US Empire has fought in their homelands, and some were born after the carnage. Some come to raise their families after their economies were destroyed by neoliberal exploitation, and some simply don't remember.

Once here, immigrants must learn the intricacies of an already segregated society. Black people, immigrants learn, must be kept at the bottom if the immigrant wants to be considered white. Therefore, Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh immigrants are offered the "racial bribe," join us as whites or be considered a person of color yourself.

Deepa Iyer goes on to describe the opposite of racism, when American citizens reject a hierarchy based on skin color and insist that American institutions do the same. And yes, there will be a date when there are more people of color in the US than there are whites. But that moment will only mean social and economic justice if all the institutions become colorblind as well. 

Our country can overcome the centuries of racism to become an enlightened society. That is the goal, when we can all sing America.

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