The Raise Act will slash legal immigration by half over the next decade with the introduction of President Donald Trump’s immigration bill, potentially closing the door to non-English-speaking persons and thereby abandoning U.S. immigration’s once sacrosanct and humane policies. With the strong involvement of Stephan Miller, who insists that the Statue of Liberty has nothing to do with refugees, this bill was introduced and adopted in support of cementing the President’s dream of turning American White Again and monolingual. Your story, our story, works by uncovering trends in immigrant stories that connect the American people and present a counter-narrative of the immigration crisis. This essay will also support the above contention by discussing Kwame Anthony Appiah’s idea of western civilization being a farce.
Appiah proposes that the term ‘western culture’ is surprisingly modern time- more recent certainly than the phonograph. He contends that if western culture were real, we wouldn’t spend so much time talking it up. The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention and hence ‘there is no such thing as a western civilization.’(Appiah).
Your story, our story is a website function in consonance with Appiah’s claim of Western culture being a myth, as it narrates the personal stories of American people and proves the immigration roots of most citizens. Maggie Stein expresses the significant old family photographs and postcards from the time when her grandfather was in Germany. She states that even though her family has migrated to America, these photos provide a constant emotional link to the German land which the younger generation do not have a physical and legal bondage with (p. 61).
Jesus Antonio shares the story of the importance of Dominican Flag which her mother brought to the US when she immigrated there. Jesus states that her mother immigrated to the US for a better and safe future and was lucky to secure that aim in the US, but the Dominican flag serves as a reminder of good nostalgic days before her immigration and thus holds an important place in her life (p. 61). Tahasin Islam shares the value of religious prayer mat in his home. The mat from Mecca encourages him to visit Mecca and proudly inculcate values of religious importance among his children as he is proud of his religion and his roots and this prayer mat serves as a reminder of both (p.19).
Leila Mejia narrates about Huipil, a Guatemalan attire, which was always present at the back of her closet but recently during this study she got to know that it was the only Guatemalan thing her mother brought to America. Huipil means shirt, skirt, and belt which is made of cotton and wool and mostly worn by Indigenous people of Guatemala (p. 19). Yarely Ramosour shares about relevance of La Calavera, a skeleton head made of clay and detailed with drawings of snakes and flowers. Calavera is symbolic of Mexican’s tradition of celebrating their ancestors and showing them their love and respect. The snake on the Calavera depicts the braveness of our ancestors and flowers represent love and kindness of ancestors (p. 19).
Allison narrates about how a coffee percolator gifted to his grandfather by his great-grandfather, during the Great Depression, turned into an object of daily adventure for his Grandpa who came to America from a shtetl in Ukraine where he was born (p. 117). Amiya Nair explains about reverence of statues of three Hindu Gods- Shiva, Parvati and their son Ganesha, which was given to her mother by her grandmother when she migrated to America from India. The statue of deities still connects her family to Indian culture and Hindu religion (p. 118). Owen Ziegler provides us with the recipe of Houska, a traditional bread roll baked and consumed in the Czech Republic prepared from typical ingredients like wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt. Czechoslovakians especially consume this meal on Christmas and his mother fondly remembers this Christmas tradition from the childhood days spent in Czechoslovakia before her family migrated to America (p. 119).
National projects like Your story, our story binds people over their ethnicity and religious backgrounds by making the student participants feel secure in sharing their personal story and thus shaping their history and empowering them to become historians. This exercise helps people to get knowledge about their roots and rise above the society prejudices by becoming informed individual so that they do not get swayed by the prejudiced political agendas of people like President Trump. Thus by creating and sharing different narratives, Your story, our story functions as a counter- narrative to present immigration issues.
Your Story, Our Story. Pg. 19. http://yourstory.tenement.org/artifacts/page/19.
Your Story, Our Story. Pg. 61. http://yourstory.tenement.org/artifacts/page/61.
Your Story, Our Story. Pg. 117. http://yourstory.tenement.org/artifacts/page/117.
Your Story, Our Story. Pg. 118. http://yourstory.tenement.org/artifacts/page/118.
Kwame Anthony Appiah. “There is no such thing as a western civilization.” The Guardian, 9 Nov. 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/09/western-civilisation-appiah-reith-lecture.
The Guardian. 2 Aug. 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/02/trump-immigration-law-reduction-10-years