Immigration policy, body autonomy, & listening to the marginalized - Sunday Suggestions & Connections

by Abaki Beck

 

This week we look at immigration policy in the Presidential campaign (and privileging immigrant narratives), Kim Kardashian, Erin Andrews and bodily autonomy (and why feminism matters), and other social justice stories you may have missed this week!

In this week's Democratic Debate in Florida hosted by Univision, both Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton promised not to deport children or anyone without a criminal record if they were elected president.  Before the debate, Sanders’ campaign released a moving video about immigrant workers in Florida. This is in stark contrast to their Republican counter-parts, several of whom are advocating for increased border security and the deportation of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Throughout the campaign, much of the Republican rhetoric has focused on demonizing two groups: Muslims and (raced as Latinx) undocumented immigrants.

Who the next Commander in Chief will be is especially important as they will be determining the future of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs. DAPA allows parents of citizens (or legal permanent residents) with three term work permits and exemption from deportation. It is a policy meant to keep families together. However, several states have filed lawsuits arguing that this is against the Constitution (even though the federal government has control over immigration policy, not states). The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments regarding DAPA in April. If the legality of DAPA is upheld, this Administration will be able to start creating infrastructure for the programs. If the Supreme Court decision is announced in the fall or later, this implementing action will be postponed, making it easier for the future Administration to overturn or eliminate these programs.  

In analyzing and advocating for these policies, it is important to humanize the undocumented immigrants to whom they refer. These policies will have extremely real impact on the lives and safety of millions of Americans - both those living undocumented and their families. Here are two great projects that highlight immigrant narratives:

  • Immigrant Stories  are videos/stories by immigrants or refugees living in Minnesota, curated by the Immigrant History Research Center at the University of Minnesota

  • Moving Words was a project in Houston, Texas empowering immigrants and refugees to tell their stories through writing and photography. Check out their tumblr here (bonus: it was created by one of our editors!)

And here are some readings on immigrants, children of immigrants, and mixed-status families:

 

This week, we also saw two very different stories of body autonomy. What is significant about both of these cases is they are both about bodily autonomy. Erin Andrews, a Fox News reporter, was violated when a man filmed her nude, without her consent or knowledge, and posted the video online. Many women and men alike rallied behind her, denouncing the actions of the man. They recognized that she should have control over her body, and that if videos of her are posted without her knowledge, she has every right to demand justice. However, she also received negative reactions (that’s what we get from living in a heteropatriarchal society): that she was awarded too much, that she “looked hot” in the videos so why did she care. But in the end, Andrews did receive justice for this gross violation of her privacy.

Then we get to Kim Kardashian. She willingly and knowingly posted a nude photo of herself on Twitter. She has every right to do so - her body, her choice. She is not hurting anyone by posting this photo. And yet, quickly after Kim Kardashian posted her photo, memes, tweets, and unnecessary opinions went up vilifying Kardashian and calling her degrading, sexist names. Self love is considered selfish; being empowered by her body is considered “dirty.” In response, she wrote:

 

I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”

 

Both stories are about “protecting” bodies. Erin Andrews unrightfully had her body exposed online, something that should never happen. Kim Kardashian lovingly and happily shared her love of her body - and she was shamed and ridiculed. Her body, too, did not deserve to be seen by the public, but for a very different reason. This sends a clear signal to women - no matter what the circumstance, your body should not be viewed. This is one of the many reasons why feminism and feminist critique still matters. We will over sexualize you, yet no matter how you want your body to be viewed and by whom, you will face backlash. Your body, our choice. Men continue to dictate when and how women’s bodies may be consumed.

As it’s Women’s History Month and this shit is still happening, here’s some great (foundational) authors on women’s empowerment and feminism:

 

Other stories you may have missed this week:

 


Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Abaki Beck