Hard — really hard — choices for an Iraqi refugee in Turkey

Amer Mohammad has a decision to make.

While refugees are camped out, protesting and demanding safe passage from Turkey to Europe, Amer must decide if he will wait and how long he will wait for an answer about his future. The United Nations and the German embassy, he says, have said it could take years for him to get paperwork to move, and there’s no guarantee he will actually be allowed to go anywhere — let alone where he wants. In the meantime, he is not allowed to legally work in Turkey.

So he’s joined a camp of refugees outside Istanbul’s main bus terminal.

Read more at PRI.org.

On Google’s new CEO

Sundar Pichai will become the CEO of Google, as a parent company, Alphabet Inc., is created by Google’s founders.

“I think the fact that we have Indians now at the helm of Google and Microsoft is a statement of how Indians have become part of the fabric of tech in the US,” AnnaLee Saxenian says. Through the 80s and 90s, Indians would be involved in startups but would not get promotions or, worse, would be replaced at the point of new companies receiving major funding. In 1999, less than 10 percent of Silicon Valley startups were created by foreign-born entrepreneurs. Ten years later, more than a quarter have foreign-born founders, she says.

But it would be a mistake to focus on this narrative as proof that immigrants in America have “made it,” says sociologist Pawan Dhingra of Tufts University.

“We should find a way as a community, as a nation, to celebrate the achievements of a group in a complicated way. Not a simplistic way,” Dhingra says. “Celebrate when someone does really well, but recognize that it’s the systems and the histories that enable these things.”

Read more at PRI.org.

Good for NYC, Bad for Beijing

Filmmaker Zhu Rikun is homeless.

Not literally, but in a philosophical way.

“I still continue my job as a filmmaker,” he says. “I just feel homeless. I don’t feel any home anywhere, in China or the United States.”


Zhu was the artistic director of the Beijing Independent Film Festival from 2006 to 2011 and is an acclaimed producer and director of independent film in China. In the years before he left Beijing, he was monitored, placed under house arrest and detained by authorities. The festival was shut down last summer. Zhu moved to the Hudson Valley, New York in the fall under a visa program for artists of extraordinary ability.

In a sense, both Zhu and the Beijing Independent Film Festival have become homeless, squeezed out of China’s increasingly tight space for artists and activists.

Next month, his film “The Dossier” will be screened in New York City as part of a special series of independent films from China. A sort of stand-in for what was blocked Beijing, Cinema on the Edge is an almost month-long event of 27 films curated from the Beijing festival that never took place.

Read on a PRI.org.

Minneapolis event: Film and discussion of adoption, migration, identity

I’m on my first panel in Minnesota and looking forward to it!

Panelists at the Nokomis Library screening of the documentary "You Follow"
Panelists at the Nokomis Library screening of the documentary “You Follow”

It’s a screening of a documentary called “You Follow,” a documentary about adoption and identity. It will be followed by a panel discussion of the film as well as migration and culture. I’m looking forward to getting to know this very dynamic group of people. Come join the event at Nokomis Library on August 22. More information here.

#ChicanoCon

David Favela loves Comic-Con. One catch: He’s never actually attended.

#Repost @loudenlo ・・・ Wonder Woman #borderX #ChicanoCon #XhicanoArt #sdcc2015 #legítimo #lyndacarter

A photo posted by spartantown (@spartantown) on

“I’ve never been able to get tickets,” says this San Diego native. “I’m what you would call a frustrated Comic-Con fan. For many of us out there, it’s very hard to get in. And it’s pretty expensive if you want to take the family.”

Badges go for $50 for each full day, and $35 for the first and last partial days of events — that’s $220 for an adult to attend the whole convention — and this year they sold out within hours of becoming available. The event takes over San Diego. More than 130,000 people are expected to attend and the official shuttles have 60 stops around the city.

But none of those stops are in Barrio Logan, a neighborhood that’s a stone’s throw from the San Diego Convention Center, where Comic-Con’s main events take place. That’s why Favela, owner of Border X Brewery, started Chicano-Con.

Read on at PRI.org.

Personalities in the #IranDeal

The historic agreement with Iran announced Tuesday took 20 months of talks and involved many players. Sure, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif played a central role, but there were many others who really made the deal come together.

Iran agreed to reduce its nuclear capability for the next 10 years in exchange for lifting sanctions. The deal was struck between Iran and P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both celebrated the deal in separate statements. Direct contact between the two in September 2013 was a crucial step in getting the talks moving, but the deal came together at much lower levels.

Here are some of the players who helped make the deal happen, including the Silver Fox.

Find out who she is and read on at PRI.org.

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.