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Our America

How to Talk to Your Parents About Politics: Part 1

- By Dominique Fong

Photo Credit: Marcela McGreal, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Young Asian Americans describe how they’re coming to terms with political differences at the dinner table and in society

When Jamie Gee joined a Black Lives Matter protest last year, the crowd marched peacefully through downtown Oakland until it got to the city’s Chinatown district, where Gee saw some people smashing windows and spraying graffiti on the walls of Chinese businesses.

“That was upsetting,” Gee said. “I could see they were actively hurting my community.” Soon after the protest, Gee, a 34-year-old middle school teacher who is Chinese...

Our America

Are You Listening?

- By Avital Balwit

“Are you listening, NSA?” “Can you hear me  Mark Zuckerberg?” “Are you there Bezos?” At some point, these went from internet-era jokes to truisms, from mocking a conspiracy theory to acknowledging the status quo. While it may not be by these specific actors, most of us accept that we can be listened to—and sometimes are.

One particularly egregious example of this spying comes from the story of Project Pegasus. Over the past few months, a group of NGOs and investigative journalists broke the story that governments are using a powerful spyware called Pegasus to target activists,...

Our America

All That Is Yet to Come

- By J. Malcolm Garcia

(Photo: Afghan girl in class. Courtesy of J. Malcolm Garcia.)

My Afghan colleague, Aarash, recently received a special immigrant visa (SIV). I’m a freelance reporter, and he worked with me in Kabul as a translator for five years. SIVs are available only to those Afghans who worked as translators, interpreters, or other professionals employed by or on behalf of the United States government for a minimum of two years. Aarash’s wife, Sharjeela, translated documents for the U.S. government at the Ministry of Interior. Her job made the family eligible for the visa.

Hello brother, Aarash wrote to me in a Facebook message on June 24, 2016. Hope everything is going well with you. I’m currently in the States. Just wanted you to know.


Our America

Preaching to the Choir

- By Jim Hicks

(Photo: "Because I have company." Carl Hancock Rux, in an interview about activism, conducted by Carrie Mae Weems)

The poet, playwright, director, musician, actor, and activist Carl Hancock Rux grew up in foster care. His older brother Ralph owned a restaurant in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and Ralph managed to locate Carl, who was still living with his foster parents. And then, as Rux puts it, they “had a brief, wonderful, beautiful time together.” One day, though, Ralph disappeared; when Carl chanced upon him, months later, he was almost unrecognizable, suffering from dementia, and dying of AIDS.

The younger brother cared for the older, at a time when AIDS patients were feared and shunned even by the hospital workers entrusted with their care. On the day...

Our America

For the Record

- By Jim Hicks

Though we rarely think of them in this light, writers and professors of literature have training and skills with policy implications. They even, at times, feel called upon to weigh in on matters of national and international importance. In this country, however, I would be shocked if they were actually called upon, much less listened to. The one counterexample I can think of comes from abroad, and it has always appeared to me both memorable and laudable. When the Republic of Argentina formed a national commission to investigate, assemble evidence, and publish a public record after years of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering its citizens, they appointed a novelist, Ernesto Sabato, to head that commission. The introduction to its final report remains a model of clarity and...

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