18 Essays About The Immigrant Experience You Need To Read
These stories illuminate what it takes, and what it means, to uproot your life in one country and begin it again in a new one.
"In Palestine, we could so easily have been treated as the enemy, but we were welcomed like family."
"This weekend’s immigration order doesn’t apply to me or my family; I’ll be fine. But so many others I know and love will not."
"It’s strange to see the media turn its attention to places like my hometown in coal-country Pennsylvania and find that my experience there, as part of the non-white working class, is still invisible."
"Sometimes I wish I could ask America when, exactly, it made its mind up about us. The myth, of course, is that it hasn’t, that there is still a chance to mollify those who dictate the terms of our experience here, and then be allowed to chase success unfettered by their paranoia. To live, as it’s more commonly known, the American dream."
"My mom’s Kashmiri cooking has always tethered me to home. So it’s no wonder she won’t give me (all) the secrets to doing it myself."
"Growing up in a Korean American family, I absorbed the idea that any feeling of pleasure comes at a cost. But as I get older, I’m realizing it doesn’t have to work that way."
"As a child of immigrants, I am deeply ashamed that this is who we are."
"I cherish the time I have spent in clubs like Pulse in cities like Orlando, where gay Latinos — the immigrants, the undocumented, and the first-generation Americans alike — gravitate because we love men and we love our homelands, and that’s one of the places our worlds converge."
"After fleeing Vietnam, my parents turned to food to teach us about what it means to be Vietnamese."
"I moved to the U.S. from the Philippines when I was 15, where I had been raised as a boy. About a decade later, I started to live as a woman and eventually transitioned. I think of migration and transition as two examples of the same process – moving from one home, one reality, to another."
"So many Americans go to India to find themselves. But I went to find the history my family lost in the subcontinent’s Partition."
"I once felt torn between Nigeria and Florida, between jollof rice and fried alligator, but there is no real me without both."
"After my brother died and my father was partially paralyzed, my family traveled 7,000 miles in search of an old home, a new house, and the things we’d lost on the road in between."
"When you perform the act of audacity that is consolidating an entire life into a couple of suitcases and striking out to make your way, what is not American about that? When you leave the old country so that your daughters can have a good education and walk down their streets without fear, what is not American about that? When you flee violence and poverty to come to a land of plenty, when you are willing to learn new languages, to haul ass, to do twice as much work, what is not American about that?"
"Being one of the few Asians in my school was hard enough. Working at my parents’ Chinese restaurant didn’t make it any easier."
"I bent over backward to explain myself. 'From Pakistan,' I would say. 'Not a terrorist,' I almost added. But I didn’t — the joke would only be funny if racial profiling didn’t exist."
"They did it for us, and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make the most of it."
"My parents and I communicate in an incomplete mash-up of Bengali and English. I sometimes wonder what we are missing."