From Theater Mu to Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights,” theater tells stories of immigrants as real Americans. Two theater stories and three real-life immigrant stories make up tonight’s news round-up.
immigration Lily Tung Crystal, the artistic director of Theater Mu, describes herself as “first-born generation, American-born Chinese.” She finds strength in working with other BIPOC communities and believes in the absolute necessity of telling immigrant stories. (Sahan Journal)
“We’re still learning about each other, and our work together is evolving, but you know, some of that work is done specifically in the theater with the Twin Cities Theatres of Color Coalition; Penumbra Theater, Theater Mu, New Native Theatre, Pangea World Theater, and Teatro del Pueblo. We’re working in solidarity and in coalition to transform funding practices to make them more equitable. …
“The violence that has occured in the Asian community is troubling and traumatic, and so I think that the AAPI community is grappling with that violence. Specifically here in the Twin Cities community, I think that the AAPI community is so activist here, that we’re really working hard to take care of our communities, be in conversation with them, and fight racism and violence. And one of the reasons why we think that the violence is happening is because other people often see Asian Americans as not truly American, or other, or even subhuman. I feel like there is a contingent in American society that doesn’t see us as real people. And part of that is because our stories are not told widely in the media, in film, or on television.
“At Theater Mu our responsibility, and being an AAPI organization in the community, is to tell those stories, tell those narratives and give a face and a voice to the people in our community. The more people hear our stories, the more we’re seen on stage in film and television, then the more people see us as the true Americans that we really are.”
Lin Manuel Miranda wrote “In The Heights” when he was a college sophomore, back in 1999. The musical debuted at his college, made it to Broadway, and now returns on the big screen, as an updated version with a strong focus on immigration. (Washington Post)
“‘In the Heights’ has evolved in an ongoing dialogue with the politics of immigration in America. The show was fortunate in the timing of its earlier incarnations: They, along with Miranda’s already legendary global colossus ‘Hamilton,’ opened in the calms between the storms of immigration controversies, when there seemed to be broad, bipartisan agreement that we must welcome newcomers.
“Now, however, it is no longer possible to adapt a show like ‘In the Heights’ without recognizing what its intended audiences already know: Tens of millions of their fellow Americans have come to fear immigrants and the future they represent. In response, this latest “In the Heights” pulls back the lens, the wider angle transforming what was once a straightforward love story into a sweeping tale about the meaning of an immigrant neighborhood in a nation where an aging citizenry, a shrinking workforce and a declining birthrate put us in desperate need of rejuvenation.”
Real Immigrant Stories
Maria de Jesús fled Guatemala and her abuser, taking her 11-year-old son on the dangerous journey north. Now she is stuck in Tijuana, as the Biden administration considers whether to change the Trump-era rules that deny admission to women fleeing domestic violence. (Washington Post)
“After four years of beatings, humiliation and sexual abuse, María de Jesús mustered the courage to leave the man who would punch her in the face for even changing her clothes to go outside, saying she could only look pretty for him.
“Then the death threats began.
“’You will never, ever be happy,’ her ex-boyfriend told her on the phone in December. ‘And when I find you, I will disappear you and your entire family.’…
“Advocates say the vast majority of domestic violence victims arriving at the border have almost no chance of gaining protection while restrictions are still in place.
“Most end up staying in Mexico in cramped tent cities or shelters, some of them falling prey to organized crime groups or immigrant smugglers. Others end up going back to the dangers they are trying to escape.”
Saroun Khan came to the United States as a refugee, when he was four years old. When he was 19, he took an unlocked car for a joyride—and that was a felony that made him deportable, even though he is a permanent resident. For almost 20 years, nothing happened. Then came Trump, and a nightmare of arrest, detention, COVID, and looming deportation. Now Khan has been released—but he is still not safe. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Saroun Khan can’t shake the sense that his freedom might be temporary.
“After 13 months in ICE custody, he’s back in the Philadelphia rowhouse where he grew up. He can walk the streets of his Olney neighborhood, savoring the thick summer air and drenching evening rain.
“But with every step he knows there’s nothing to prevent the immigration authorities that targeted him for deportation, based on a 20-year-old conviction, from seizing him again.”
The United States owes protection to Afghans whose work for this country now endangers their lives and families. (New York Times)
“’I get phone calls from the Taliban saying, ‘We will kill you’ — they know who I am and that I worked for the Americans,’ Mr. Walizada said. He has delayed marriage because he does not want to put a wife at risk, he said, and he has moved from house to house for safety….
“More than 18,000 Afghans are awaiting decisions on their S.I.V. applications, according to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Many say they are seized by dread, fearing they will be denied, or approved only after they have been hunted down and killed.”