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Immigrant Heritage Month
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Let’s Explore Immigrant Heritage Month
For Immigrant Heritage Month, let’s revisit those discussion questions from above in relation to immigration.
What relationship and identities do we hold in relation to the land we call home right now?
For instance, families can be a mix of Indigenous, immigrants documented or undocumented, displanted people, settlers, visitors, transnationally adopted, diaspora, third-culture kids, nomadic, seasonal migrants, etc.
Some groups even have ethnicity-specific labels, such as ABC or FOB (American-Born Chinese or Fresh-off-the Boat) which might be used as a derogatory label or worn with pride. Many immigrants and descendants use generational descriptors – such as first-generation immigrants, 1.5 generation (for people who immigrated in late childhood), and so-on.
The point is to unpack the language and give words to your kids to help them self-identify where they fit into the scheme of human migration so they can choose how they identify.
What stories does the media, folks in our community, and our society tell us about people like us?
Which groups hold the power to give or take away other groups’ rights? Who is seen as the ‘default,’ and who is ‘the other?’ Whose stories are taught in schools and celebrated? Whose ancestors, heritages, and traditions are taught as ‘our history’ (ex: American history in American schools), and which groups are relegated to World History or not spoken of at all?
What responsibilities do these identities carry?
Does our nationality allow us to skip past challenges other groups have to deal with? Which challenges do we face because of our nationality?
What does it look like to make a home here? To be accepted as a community member, not a ‘foreigner’?
What does it look like to welcome others to our neighborhood, even when we disagree?
How do we accept and support those who have been here longer than us, and those who are just arriving? What fears do we hold about how our home could change?
Books to explore immigration
Since we’re making this a personal exploration, the books you’re gonna want to read with your kids should be unique to your family. For example, our Chinese-Irish kiddos can find reflection of our experiences, and the immigrant stories of our ancestors in books like:
- Paper Son for Chinese American immigrants affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act.
- Small Beauties for Irish American immigrants/refugees forced here during the Great Hunger.
- Where Are You From? for multiracial people treated as ‘the other’ in their own birthplace.
More resources to dig deeper:
If you’re unsure or unwilling to talk about your family’s nationality (your kids edification isn’t worth re-traumatizing family members!), skip past the family self-reflection, and discuss immigration rights as a general issue. Here are some stories and tools for that:
- Immigrant Solidarity Family Action Toolkit
- Immigrants Belong Here: Books Helping Kids Advocate For Human Rights
- How We Reinforce The Model Minority Myth with Polar Bear Island
- Why We Repeat Atrocities: Stories of Japanese Internment
- Overcoming False Scarcity & Xenophobia with ‘Shelter’
- Kids Stories Dismantling Xenophobia
- #OwnVoices Immigration Stories By 1st & 2nd Generation Immigrants
- Luminary Brain Trust Family Movie Night: Portraying the 2nd-generation immigrant experience with Ron’s Gone Wrong