“…, built walls out of chain-link fences.”

Anyone following US news over the past weeks surely knows about the effects (intended or not) of the Trump administration’s recently instituted zero tolerance policy on unauthorized border crossings — now, even those claiming asylum status, if not entering at an authorized point of entry, risk having accompanying minors taken away form them, inasmuch as the adults are now being charged with a crime and, once in the criminal justice system, are disallowed from carrying out normal parenting duties.

That these now unaccompanied children are being held in various locales around the US (including tent cities and in what certainly seems to be hastily created facilities in what were once so-called big box stores), with no indication when they will (or even if they will) be reunited with their parents, has caused outrage in the past days among some while, for others, has prompted strong defenses of the policy (which has been described by supporters of the administration as not being a policy at all but, instead, the sad effect forced on them by what they term “a broken immigration system”). Continue reading ““…, built walls out of chain-link fences.””

Us/Not Us

Picture 1Not long after we came to the U.S. from Canada — specifically, moving from Ontario to Knoxville, TN, back in 1993 — we went out to eat to experience some authentic southern food for ourselves. While I’ll defer from talking too much here about the terrible let down that was the side dish that they called “hush puppies” (deep fried dough balls? Really?), what turned out to be even more memorable was the waitress who, likely hearing in our voices that we weren’t local, asked us, “Where y’all from?” to which we answered, “Toronto.” Continue reading “Us/Not Us”

Tea Time

teaAlthough I grew up in Canada, I’ve now spent twenty years living and working in the southern United States (5 of those in southwest Missouri, though midwest by some standards, didn’t feel much different from the three previous years in Tennessee, to be honest). I’ve been here long enough to learn to take some things for granted (like saying Zee instead of Zed) but others, at certain moments, still stand out, signaling to me that I am indeed a resident alien. Continue reading “Tea Time”

All-American Fireworks, Hamburgers, Frankfurters and Yoga

With all-American Fourth of July festivities like fireworks, frankfurters, and hamburgers, we continually construct our identification with an imagined community, as Benedict Anderson  emphasized thirty years ago. Like the nation, the values that we associate with the United States, (e.g., democracy, equality, and liberty) are imagined constructs whose conceptions shift over time.

The United States is a nation of immigrants with the Statue of Liberty welcoming the “huddled masses” one of those frequently invoked traits. Beyond questions over the place of Native Americans in the nation of immigrants and contemporary debates over “immigration reform” and “border security,” the recent court case involving a yoga program in the Encinitas, California, public schools (which I have discussed previously here and here) illustrates the imagined nature of this national trait in a surprising way. Continue reading “All-American Fireworks, Hamburgers, Frankfurters and Yoga”