Immigrants of the Global Majority

I led, and Chau Ly organized, an Immigrants and Children of Immigrants of the Global Majority Workshop, in December 2017, in Massachusetts, USA. Thirty-five immigrants and children of immigrants attended. 

Immigrants are currently under attack. It was good to discharge hard and remember our inherent goodness and connections and, from our deep connections, our power.

We were reminded that immigrant oppression is a foundation for profit making and is also used to distract people from the dynamics of oppression.

We worked on reclaiming all the aspects of our diverse selves—including our languages—that we have had to put aside to survive in the white culture. We worked on giving up “comfort and security” and not hiding in the seeming safety of invisibility. We worked on how racism, internalized racism, horizontal racism, and colonialism have divided us from each other. And we made sure that every group had space to show themselves and speak their truths.

On Saturday evening a panel of women spoke about sexism in their cultures and how colonialism had affected their experience of sexism. Then a panel of men answered women’s questions. It was lovely to hear from both women and men and build stronger connections. (The men continued meeting via phone after the workshop.)

Amidst all of this we danced, danced, danced! We learned Latin, Indian, Korean, and Chinese dances. It was fun to get connected in so many different ways. 

Cheng Imm Tan

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The workshop was the highlight of my RC experience this year. It raised my awareness of my own significance and encouraged me to reach out to others to acknowledge theirs. Introducing ourselves to everyone in our heart languages and being counseled in front of the group drew us closer to one another.

I am thinking of my mother a lot, putting myself in her shoes [imagining what it was like to be her] in order to better understand her story. More than anything I want to go back in time and be with her when she found her mother lifeless. I want to hold her hand as she closed her dead mother’s eyes and, soon after, said goodbye to her birthplace to start a new life in Manila (the Philippines).

I can stay close to her and give her time to discharge on the pain she felt as a child in Gulangyu, Xiamen (China). I can hold her from across the oceans and love her by listening to her and giving her a voice. I can help her recognize her significance, worthiness, and intelligence—separate from and equal to that of her brothers.

As I continue to understand and appreciate her story, I begin to separate it from my own. I am a branch that grew from hers, and I am my own branch. I am a child of my mother, Inhui, and I am my own person.

Lynne May Lim

Newton, Massachusetts, USA
and the Philippines

I felt seen at the workshop. Oftentimes I’m a “wallflower” [someone who remains on the outer edges of an event]. In a group of over thirty people, I hadn’t expected to be seen.

The men’s lunch table and panel stood out to me. Rarely do I get to be in spaces with other men going over sexism and oppressor material [distress].

Being in the activist spaces I’m in, and knowing what men have done to women and gender nonconforming people, I often don’t think I am worthy of anyone’s commitment. I also feel like I need to figure out my oppressor material on my own. After the lunch together and the panel, I realized that men like me need to connect with other men and unpack our oppressor material and the distress that pits us against one another.

Being with and counseling with other men of color opened my eyes to my pain and patterns and motivated me to discharge more. When someone on the men’s panel said, “Don’t give up on us,” my heart dropped—because that is exactly what I don’t want the women around me to do. I also remembered how many women in my life hadn’t given up on me. I will do better as a straight male ally—for all the people, including myself, who haven’t given up on me

Jeff Lau

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Wow. What a year 2017 has been for refugees, immigrants, women, and the movement to ensure that all people are treated equally and set up to thrive! For me it started with the inspiring Women’s March and culminated in this workshop.

Cheng Imm and Chau, with unrelenting optimism and perseverance, brought all of us together in spite of incredible challenges. When I think about the workshop, I recall so many bright spots that give me hope. I remember that I’m not alone. I have all of you.

I learned so much about sexism and male domination. In particular, I appreciated the bravery and honesty of our male Co-Counselors. Who you are and what you do truly matters!

Systems count on us being silent and disconnected so that they can keep us where we are and maintain the status quo. Reclaiming our minds and being our full, authentic selves can be revolutionary.

Duey Kol

Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA

I appreciated what someone said about how for some of us being a child of immigrants has meant that we get good at listening to parents who are always in distress. That has definitely been true for me. My two parents have relied heavily on me to navigate the systems of a country that has been foreign to them.

I am their oldest child, and the expectations for me were twofold: First, I was to be a role model to my brother and my younger cousins. And second, I was to collect and relay the information my parents needed to survive.

Sometimes it feels thankless to keep choosing my community and family. They give me plenty of grief. But it’s a choice I must make every second of every day.

I feel I do not get to be both Queer and a person of color, both American and Desi [Indian]. I have to choose one or the other, and I always choose to be my parents’ child—in the hope that one day we will understand each other. Every gift I receive is worthless if I cannot share it with them. Liberation does not ring true to me if the people who connect me to my ancestors do not get to come with me. After all, we are not working toward a liberation movement that is only for English speakers born and educated in the United States.

I appreciated Cheng Imm’s saying that the point of RC is not to stop feeling but to be more present in our lives. We are not trying to rid ourselves of emotion. We are trying to live fully, fearlessly, and with love and kindness for one another.

“Nanu Hazarika”

Massachusetts, USA

Cheng Imm said at the beginning of our workshop that if we spent the entire time doing introductions, it would be a good use of our time together. That made me realize what I forget so often in my everyday life as an organizer, friend, and comrade—that nothing is more valuable than the relationships we build with each other.

At the workshop I felt at home, able to drop any pretense. I was able to laugh out loud, in my sessions in Mandarin with Chen Xi and Jeff, about how ridiculous and special and beautiful Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants are. I was able to hug and be vulnerable with the other men of color and feel ridiculous and free doing the kimchi dance. I feel so lucky to have been part of this space, and part of building it. It was a reminder that we cannot give up on each other, and that each other includes ourselves.

Victor Yang

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Mi participación en el taller de “Inmigrantes e hijos de inmigrantes” me dejó una experiencia muy satisfactoria. En cada parte del taller tuve la oportunidad de aclarar mis pensamientos.

Tener presentes las similitudes que existen entre nosotros y percartarme que existimos reafirma la importancia que tenemos. Compartir nuestras experiencias me permite no olvidar las razones que nos orillaron a emigrar. Esto me ayuda a resistir la opresión que el sistema capitalista ha creado. Reafirmar la conección que existe entre la decisión de emigrar y la colonización, el genocidio, la guerra, el capitalismo, el racismo, el sexismo y las adiciones me brinda una herramienta que puedo compartir con mi familia inmigrante. Me permití explorar partes de mi identidad que no había hecho antes.

Sé que soy meztiza y ahora reconozco con orgullo mis raíces. El cariño que obtuve de cada uno me acompaña y me recuerda que importo.

Pilar Carrillo

Westminster, Colorado, EEUU

Traducido al inglés por Adriana Castro 

English translation of the above:

Participating in the Immigrants and Children of Immigrants Workshop was a satisfying experience. In each part of the workshop, I had the opportunity to clarify my thoughts.

Keeping in mind the similarities among us, and realizing that we exist, reaffirms our importance.  Sharing our experiences allows me to not forget what led us to emigrate and helps me resist the oppression of the capitalist system. Reaffirming the connection between the decision to emigrate and colonization, genocide, war, capitalism, racism, sexism, and other oppressions gives me a tool I can share with my immigrant family. It allows me to explore parts of my identity I had not been able to before.

I know that I am mestiza [of mixed European and Indigenous American ancestry], and I now regard my roots with pride. The love I received from everyone at the workshop stays with me and reminds me that I matter.

Pilar Carrillo

Westminster, Colorado, USA

Translated from Spanish to
English by Adriana Castro

At the workshop I was searching for the new thing to absorb or the breakthrough to hear, but at some point I realized that we get together because of each other. While it’s important to learn about and reflect on our histories and experiences, the practice of being with each other and reclaiming what we’ve lost is the work here. We get together to bear witness to each other—to physically embody that we are here together, from different diasporas, fighting to be whole. I cherish the connections I made with people.

My biggest takeaway [thing I will remember] is the many elders in the room and how intergenerational the space was. War, violence, and displacement have strained relationships between the generations, and I have felt hopeless about this at times. And the older generations’ distresses can seem frozen and untouchable. Seeing older folks discharging and fighting for themselves moved me and reminded me that I get to have you all.

Carro Huệ Hứa

Dorchester, Massachusetts, USA

I loved meeting and re-meeting people and strengthening my connections. As I type this I’m holding back tears. I have never felt as peaceful, loved, seen, heard, cared about, welcomed, connected, and belonging as I did at this workshop.

The tears are mostly of joy, because I’ve spent most of my adult life searching for a feeling of home that I never felt with my family, and then I experienced it in a room full of strangers. In my two-plus years of RC, this was the first time I had not wanted to leave a workshop.

I remember crying and screaming for home, while holding Cheng Imm’s hand for those few minutes, and how happy I was to open my eyes and be exactly where I was.

Thank you, Cheng Imm and Chau, for all of your love for and dedication to our constituency. Since returning from the workshop to my regular routine, what has kept my attention out has been remembering that feeling of home and all of the love I felt from everyone at the workshop. I can’t wait to see you all next year!

“Angel Oh”

Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00