By John D. Sutter, CNN
Cincinnati, Ohio (CNN) - In the back of an African grocery store in northern Cincinnati, Bakary uses a jigsaw to slice the heads off frozen fish.
This life is a dream come true - something he never imagined growing up as a slave in Mauritania, a West African country in the Sahara Desert.
“Life is a lot better” in the United States, he said. “You are free.”
This Rust Belt city on the border with Kentucky, from an American perspective, has its glory days well behind it. But for Mauritanian refugees like Bakary, whose full name is not used because, despite the distance, he fears the government still could retaliate, the city has become a symbol of hope.About 4,000 Mauritanians live in the area, according to locals. Most came because they are outcasts of one sort or another in Mauritania. A few, like Bakary, are from Mauritania’s slave class of Black Moors. If they had stayed in Mauritania, they say, they could have been killed by their masters or brought back into slavery.
Editor’s note: Susan Bodnar is a clinical psychologist who works with people from diverse backgrounds and teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College and at The Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and all of their pets.
By Susan Bodnar, Special to CNN
(CNN) - “He’s back,” said Cornelius Fudge upon Voldemort’s return. So too is Charles Murray, a political scientist at the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, who turns intelligent perceptions into scary proof that everything he believes is true.
Known to interpret statistical research through a conservative lens tinged with racial bias, Murray has taken on the educational system, the welfare system, as well as intelligence, class, race and genetics in his controversial and contested 1994 work, "The Bell Curve" (written with the late Richard J. Herrnstein). In his recent book "Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960 – 2010," Murray sees the major differences between the classes as a dark sign that America “is coming apart”.
Editor’s note: Paromita Shah has served as Associate Director of the National Immigration Project since 2005, specializing in immigration detention and enforcement. She is a contributing author and co-presenter of the “Deportation 101” curriculum, participates in regular advocacy efforts with ICE officials, and has created an abundance of resources for communities affected by heightened immigration enforcement efforts.
By Paromita Shah, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Earlier this month, two groups that support immigrants, Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform and Respect/Respeto, jointly announced the forthcoming “eApp,” (Emergency Alert & Protection Program) a smart phone app designed to protect people’s safety and help protect them against any civil rights abuses that could occur when people are stopped in their cars for suspected immigration violations.
The app is modeled after the one created for people participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement. When activated it would notify a pre-set list of people that might include family, friends, lawyers and advocates. The app will also remind users of their rights, and have the ability to record audio and video of the incident. The groups behind “eapp” are fundraising now and hope to have it available for users this summer.
It's no surprise that the creators of this app are from Arizona, the state where SB-1070 feeds into an anti-immigrant climate leading to well-documented civil rights violations. It’s also the state where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has openly waged a decade-long ‘war’ against people he thinks are non-citizens in the name of stopping unauthorized migration. The greatest tools in his arsenal, prior to Arizona's state law, were voluntary federal programs that allowed police to stop, arrest and detain suspected non-citizens for immigration violations. The result is that SB-1070 and Sheriff Joe's actions have been hurting everyone – not just immigrants.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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