Battling Trolls, Fears, and Other Things that Make Us Not Want to Talk about Immigration

Step/Flickr CC by 2.0
Step/Flickr CC by 2.0

I’ll be at Yale University on November 11 to give a talk and discussion in American Studies.

It’s been two years since I’ve joined Public Radio International to build digital content and find ways to use social media to make news better. On a macro-level, I’ve grown a large network of people who use Twitter and Facebook to do amazing things. There are people using the medium to share stories about their lives in intensely personal and engaging ways. On a day-to-day level, though, this job has also exposed me to enough hate speech to last a lifetime.

What makes the Internet a space for critical thinking and real debate? How can social networks both isolate and broaden horizons? And what role can (and should) scholars and journalists play in this new media economy? At Yale, I’ll make the case for engaging with trolls on the Internet. If you have any insights or stories about your experience I’d love to hear it.

Is Obama really the ‘Deporter-in-Chief’?

For Prerna Lal, how deportation data is parsed and explained is personal. She was once an undocumented immigrant herself, and for her, the deportation statistics represent people’s lives.

“There’s political motivations behind the numbers game,” says Lal. “We can cut the numbers either way, but the fact remains that the actual number of deportations is 2 million. These are people who are hard-working members of our community — mothers, brothers, members of our family.”…

During the Obama administration, there have been an estimated 2 million deportations, about 400,000 each year from 2009 to 2012. The New York Times, using a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained data that shows that about two-thirds of these cases involved people with minor or no criminal records.

Compare this to data from 1975 through 1996, when the average number of deportations per year was about 30,000, according to Department of Homeland Security data. As new laws were passed that increased the range of deportable offenses, the number of deportations increased to more than 250,000 per year from 1997 through 2012.

Read on at PRI.org.

“We have no ‘Tio Warbucks'”

Here’s how many entrepreneurs start their companies: They begin by financing themselves, burning through savings or working for little pay. Then they go to friends and families for small investments to get up and running. Their third and fourth rounds of funding often come from angel investors or venture capitalists.

It’s called boot-strapping and it’s a time-honored tradition for entrepreneurs who attend the mega South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference, held every March in Austin, Texas. But Rebecca Gonzales, a marketing and technology entrepreneur in Austin, says this funding model often puts women and minorities at a disadvantage.

“When we get in front of the angel groups, and if we get in front of a VC, we’ve already missed those two rounds of funding and feedback,” Gonzales says. “We have no ‘Tío Warbucks’.”

Read on a Public Radio International.

On hiya (shame) and balut (duck embryo)

Much to think about from this interview I had with Filipnia restaurateur Nicole Ponseca. Why do immigrants in the United States feel so strongly about their cuisines?

 

The bar at Jeepney.
The bar at Jeepney, a Filipino gastropub in the East Village of New York City. “Sarap” on the wall means “delicious” in Tagalog. Credit: Noah Fecks/Jeepney

 

One of the most visible ways that cultures mingle in America is through food. So it’s no wonder that when PRI’s The World asked, as part of our Global Nation coverage, why Filipino cuisine hasn’t spread like Thai or Chinese in this country, the reaction was strong.

We heard from Nicole Ponseca, who is on a mission to bring Filipino food to the American masses. She has created two New York City Filipino restaurants: Maharlika and its gastropub cousinJeepney. Both opened in 2012, five blocks apart from each other in New York City’s East Village.

“I’m doubtful that Filipino food will be on every corner, like Chinese or Thai food in New York,” Ponseca says. “But I’m curious about how other chefs will interpret Filipino food, who aren’t Filipino at all.”

Read on at PRI.

US Ends Trade Privileges to Bangladesh Following Garment Factory Disasters

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the US will end trade privileges with Bangladesh over concerns for safety and working conditions in factories.

The US will suspend Bangladesh from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which will increase tariffs on certain goods. The move, in response to recent garment factory disasters, will not directly affect the garment industry because they were not eligible for duty cuts under GSP.

The collapse of a Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka on April 24 left over 1,100 people dead. A factory fire in November 2012 killed over 100 people.

Read on at PRI’s The World.

24 companies sign on to major safety agreement for Bangladesh clothing factories

Twnety-four major clothing retailers have now committed to a safety accord for garment factories in Bangladesh.

More than 1,100 garment workers were killed when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed outside of Dhaka last month and hundreds of factories were closed Monday across Bangladesh amid workers’ unrest over safety concerns.

H&M, Inditex, C&A, Primark, and Tesco agreed to the accord on Monday. Seven other companies, including Benetton and Mango, joined on Tuesday, while more followed suit by Wednesday. The agreement includes measures such as independent safety inspections and public reports, an increased role for workers and unions, and funding for repairs and renovations, according to the IndustriALL and UNI Global Unions that initiated the accord.

US company PVH (which owns Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and German retailer Tchibo agreed to sign the accord last year. Other US retailers such as Walmart and Gap, have not signed the agreement. Walmart is making a “solo effort” while Gap has maintained that it cannot be part of a legally-binding accord.

The deadline for companies to join the accord is the end of the day on May 15.

News of the agreement broke during a day-long chat about the garment industry hosted by The World on Facebook yesterday. The developments prompted questions during the chat about what moves large, international clothing companies to take action and how consumers can affect change in the industry.

Read more about the chat and the post I wrote yesterday.

My $10 T-Shirt: A Conversation about Ethical Fashion

The death toll of the April 24 collapse of a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, has passed 1,000 people, making it the worst industrial accident since the 1984 gas leak at a Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal. The Rana Plaza complex collapsed just one day after an engineer declared it unsafe.

Britain’s Primark and Canadian company Loblaw, have admitted that their clothing was manufactured at Rana Plaza and offered to compensate victims of the disaster.

One question on my mind this week has been: Is it possible that the T-shirt I bought yesterday was made by one of the workers killed in that factory?

It is a disconcerting thought for a shopper’s conscience. But figuring out what we as consumers can do to help workers in the garment industry is not an easy task.

Join us Monday on Facebook for a day-long chat about how we might be able to shop more responsibly for our clothes. Click here to RSVP and post your comments and questions to the wall.

Read mor at PRI’s The World.

Publication Day for Chinese Characters

Chinese Characters Book Launch at USC on Sept. 27, 2012

Today is publication day for Chinese Characters! The first shipments via Amazon have reached readers and the book is now easily available to anyone.

We’ve got a lot going on, including East (New York City) and West (Los Angeles) Coast book launches and talks and seminars in China, Boston, Philadelphia and around Southern California. Please do RSVP to our hosts if you are interested in attending any of the events near you!

We’ve also been running a one-sometimes-two-a-day Tumblr of readings on China and book updates. You can also connect with us on Facebook and find most of the contributors on Twitter. We can’t wait to hear readers’ feedback in all these venues and on Amazon.

Ai-jen Poo: The Rock Star of Community Organizing

At a conference about social movements in Los Angeles last month, all it took was the mention of her name and the crowd erupted in applause. In the world of community organizing, Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, is a rock star.

As the crowd sat, though, Poo asked the women to stand up again and give themselves a round of applause. “Women are the heart of social organizing,” she said. “And you should be recognized.”

Rock star she may be, but Poo always puts the movement first. When she was voted onto Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World this year – hailed by no less than Gloria Steinem – she attributed it to her cause.  “It’s a testament to the power of women’s organizing,” she said over tea. “And particularly to the movement that I’m a part of.”

Read on to the Q&A at DAME Magazine.

Women and Guns: Hype vs Reality

Pro-gun organizations and retailers have been hailing the rise of women gun owners for years and the mass media has not been far behind. Reports about women with guns and stores that are seeing a rise female customers have been circulating newspapers since the 1980s. Today’s “pink pistols” are reminiscent of the Ladysmith handguns of 30 years ago.

But is it true? Are women really a fast-growing group of new gun owners?

Read on in Dame Magazine.