A virtual way to be with their deported friend

BY CHRIS O’BRIEN for the Los Angeles Times
REPORTING FROM BERKELEY
Sept. 2, 2013

Kyle Kuwahara, left, and Jude Kratzer use the video game Minecraft to stay in touch with classmate Rodrigo Guzman, 10, who was deported along with his family to Mexico. (Craig Kuwahara)

Kyle Kuwahara, left, and Jude Kratzer use the video game Minecraft to stay in touch with classmate Rodrigo Guzman, 10, who was deported along with his family to Mexico. (Craig Kuwahara)

To save their classmate who was deported to Mexico, the fourth-graders devised an epic plan.

That Rodrigo Guzman, 10, could no longer be with his friends and attend Jefferson Elementary seemed so obviously unfair to these students. So they started an online petition that got 2,788 signatures. They created a Facebook page and posted videos to YouTube.

They petitioned the Berkeley City Council and school district, which passed resolutions supporting their cause. They met with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) to ask whether she could intervene.

“We have to fight for Rodrigo’s rights because he is not able to do it himself!” Kyle Kuwahara said in a letter to President Obama. “Today I’m writing to you on Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday to do the right thing. To allow Rodrigo and his family to return to their home, school and friends in Berkeley.”

Even as the children’s “Bring Rodrigo Home” campaign built momentum, it became clear that things would not move fast. The immigration system is complicated, the students were told. There were too many agencies and politicians with rules that didn’t seem to share their urgency.
Continue reading

Oxnard Postcard by Sesshu Foster

We drove through downtown Oxnard for a look. It was no tourist destination like downtown Ventura or Santa Barbara; it was Mexicanized.

We drove through downtown Oxnard for a look. It was no tourist destination like downtown Ventura or Santa Barbara; it was Mexicanized.

Was it always like that? Two old guys talked in the shade by the dumpster behind Asahi Market. The back door was open for ventilation. We went inside to check it out. It had bowls, sacks of rice, prepackaged mochi, a long meat case with one partial octopus in it, a Chicano guy slicing sukiyaki meat.

Was it always like that? Two old guys talked in the shade by the dumpster behind Asahi Market. The back door was open for ventilation. We went inside to check it out. It had bowls, sacks of rice, prepackaged mochi, a long meat case with one partial octopus in it, a Chicano guy slicing sukiyaki beef.

It turns out the market had been in the area for a century. Even through internment and relocation during World War 2. It was one of several local businesses to do so. Most Japantown businesses like these had been forcibly taken and the original owners dispersed. In Oxnard you could walk back in time and purchase historical ume from the cold case for $2.99. I also bought kim chi and a can of green tea.

It turns out the market had been in the area for more than a century. Even through internment and relocation during World War 2. It was one of several local businesses to do so. Most Japantown businesses like these had been forcibly taken and the original owners dispersed. In Oxnard you could walk back in time and purchase historical ume from the cold case for $2.99. I also bought kim chi and a can of green tea.

I doubted somehow that the original owners still operated the place. But it was clear from the customers coming and going---not a lot, but several---that the Asian community, including young Asian women, were loyal customers.

I doubted somehow that the original owners still operated the place. But it was clear from the customers coming and going—not a lot, but several—that the Asian community, including young Asian women, were loyal customers.

Continue reading

Across the Border, sung by Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris

Across The Border. Performed by Linda Ronstadt – lead vocal, Emmylou Harris – harmony, from the Western Wall, Tucson Sessions album. With Neil Young – harmonica, Bernie Leadon – guitar/mandocello/vocal, Greg Leisz – steel guitar/bass/vocals, Andy Fairweather Low – guitar/vocals, Wix – accordion, Ethan Johns – drums. Song composed by Bruce Springsteen.

Continue reading

Movie Review: Elysium

>science-vs-fiction-overpopulation-130808-670x440[1]

★★★ | Ben Kenigsberg

August 9, 2013 | ☄ 21 Print Page
In a summer of antiseptic effects spectacles, “Elysium” stands out for its grime and intensity, as well as the bluntness of its class allegory. The movie won’t win many points for originality or logic. But when the blockbuster competition wants only new ways to repackage Wolverine and Superman, it’s weirdly refreshing to watch a film that seeks new ways to repackage “Mad Max,” “Blade Runner,” “Robocop,” and elements from Kathryn Bigelow and David Cronenberg.

The film is set in 2154, when the planet has been ravaged by disease, pollution, and overpopulation. The wealthiest now live on a space station called Elysium, which can be seen in the clouds from Earth below. Max (Matt Damon) has grown up watching Elysium from his rundown, largely Latino L.A. neighborhood. A reformed car thief now working in a grueling factory job—he’s lucky to have it, he’s sneeringly informed—Max is trying to keep things together in a society openly rigged against the poor.


Continue reading

2 reviews of Transit by Anna Seghers

transit

European Refugee Lit: Anna Seghers’s “Transit” Reviewed
By Joe Winkler On May 2, 2013

Transit
by Anna Seghers; translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo
NYRB Classics; 280 p.

Anna Seghers, one the most respected and important German authors of the 20th century, wrote perhaps the earliest account of the Nazi concentration camps. That book, The Seventh Cross, tells a similar story to her own time in a camp. Now, NYRB Classics has released a sequel of sorts. Transit tells the story of a lesser-known component of the Second World War, the displacement of millions of refugees. While it pales in comparison to the genocide, the displacement of millions of refugees signified its own traumatic experience which ended up changing the map of postwar Europe. Seghers’s unnamed narrator escapes first from a concentration camp in Germany and then from one in Rouen, France. He finds his way to Marseilles, a port city, which in this era of refugees desperate to leave transforms into a bustling town of the lost. The narrator feels a sort of modernist ennui until he finds himself a hustler in the shady business of visas and departures. There, he begins to create a glimpse of a solid life while remaining on the precarious ground of a displaced person. He loves, he attaches himself to a family and friends, all with an awareness of the inherent transience of his situation and consequently life in general.

The book begins with talk of a downed ship of refugees, and then the narrator proclaims his manifesto:
Continue reading

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies – A Doctor’s Journey among Migrant Farmworkers

Editor’s Note: After spending two years among indigenous farm workers in Mexico and in labor camps in the United States, medical anthropologist Dr. Seth M. Holmes documents how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment and racism undermine their health and access to health care in his book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. He spoke to NAM Health Editor Viji Sundaram.

NAM: Did you set out on this project as a purely anthropological endeavor, but which later changed into something more?

Holmes: Yes, as I said in my book, I set out as an anthropologist to do the classic field research method of participant observation with migrant farmworkers. I wanted to learn about indigenous Mexicans who come to the United States to work on our farms, about their health issues, and about how this group of people is perceived.

NAM: So how closely did you observe the indigenous farm workers?

Holmes: I started this research in rural Washington State, living in a labor camp and picking strawberries and blueberries along with them. We next moved to the Central Valley of California, to Madera, where we first lived homeless for a week in our cars, until we found a slum apartment willing to rent to people without a credit history. In Central California, we were not able to find much work; we pruned vineyards very intermittently. After California, I moved with them to their home village in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, and lived in a partially constructed concrete home built piece-meal with money sent by relatives in Madera and Washington State.
Continue reading