I live in a nation of immigrants – one that simultaneously takes pride in and reviles newcomers. I live in a city of immigrants—one born as a center of international commerce that as long as four centuries ago defined the city’s nature as multinational, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual—a city, New York, whose five boroughs bear names reflecting Swedish, Indigenous, Dutch, Portuguese and English origins—a city whose most prominent symbol, the Statue of Liberty, is herself an immigrant bearing a poem entreating other lands to
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me… (Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus)
Difference, novelty and variety fuel ideas that enliven and enrich discourse, culture and the fabric of daily life. Complexity and contradiction enable diversity, tolerance and acceptance to live side by side in myriad dialectic relationships with nationalism, nativism, bigotry and isolationism.My country has its origins in genocide and slavery. It is a nation whose Indigenous people as well as descendants of enslaved people (and the new immigrants that look like them) still live with the residual effects of those horrors. It is a country founded by those ostensibly seeking freedom of worship, whose revolution rejected colonialism and demanded economic self-determination, whose constitution provides for freedom of speech and religion, yet it has a crop of would-be presidential candidates (mostly immigrants and the children of immigrants) that declare us a Christian nation and consider limiting the rights of its Muslim citizens.
Humans are divided by national borders: imaginary lines imposed from within and without that sometimes do, but often do not, coincide with the needs of the people they contain or exclude.
Migration (internal, im-, and em-) is a response to the conflict between the wants, and needs of people, and the political landscape in which they find themselves. Migration is the normal state of human affairs. It results in benefits and obstacles for the places to which people come as well as the places they leave. This issue of Entitled explores migration in all of its complexity in the hope that all of our readers will emerge from its pages better able to see all people as people as people and not as essentialized caricatures of their progenitors’ homelands or cultures.
Mitch Bleier is a life-long New Yorker and second-generation American. He has been a science educator in New York City public schools and universities for the past thirty years. Currently he is completing a doctorate in Urban Education focusing on learning outside of the classroom and in the world: apprenticeship; on-the-job learning; the development and deployment of cultural, social and symbolic capital; and the value and intellectual nature of physical labor. His current research is a phenomenological investigation of a nascent cheesemaker/affineur/cheesemonger.