Issue 34: A Spring for Action (5/11/2009)

Reform, organizing, tackling old notions of identity, creating our own discourses and advocating for our own solutions...one hundred days into the Obama administration...and it is time for some spring cleaning all around. It has been heartening to learn that health care is clearly one of the current administration's top priorities. But to address the problems of the healthcare industry so that the reforms can adequately serve all communities in the U.S., we must unpack the racist and classist elements that guide decision-making. In their piece, "The Myth of the Burdensome Immigrants," Prantik Saha and Sapna Pandya force the question, how much of a burden are immigrant workers and communities really? Challenging the scapegoating of immigrants in mainstream as well as independent media for the failure of the U.S. health care system, they reveal the true state of health for South Asian immigrants and the true gaps in a system that is guided too much by lack of access and corporate profiteering.

Meanwhile, in an often neglected corner of New York City, the South Asian and West Indian residents of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park have shown us the emerging power that South Asians voting as a bloc can have. In "From Barely Relevant to Key Voting Bloc," Gurpal Singh shares the groundbreaking organizing efforts of SEVA Immigrant Community Advocacy Project in mobilizing these communities, which have had traditionally low voter turnout, to come out and participate in an historic election for the whole state. Singh gives us a step-by-step account of community organizing that we can replicate as we strengthen South Asian and immigrant communities in their ability to advocate for policies and politicians that reflect their needs.

From Queens, New York, we move to three locations and explore the experiences of three different Muslim communities. Omer Shah reviews Kavita Rajagopalan's new book in "Three Muslim Families, Three Cities: A Review of Muslims of Metropolis" and explores how identity formulates not primarily around Islam per se, but rather, how the experience of a Bangladeshi family in New York, a Palestinian family in London, and a Kurdish family in Germany are of those living as exiles, refugees, migrant workers, illegal immigrants, sons, daughters in their roles as community organizers, social workers, and non-profiteers. Shah describes the book "as a necessary intervention into popular discourse that informs our ideas about Muslims," but questions what it means to downplay their Muslim identities.

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Reform, organizing, tackling old notions of identity, creating our own discourses and advocating for our own solutions...one hundred days into the Obama administration...and it is time for some spring cleaning all around. It has been heartening to learn that health care is clearly one of the current administration's top priorities. But to address the problems of the healthcare industry so that the reforms can adequately serve all communities in the U.S., we must unpack the racist and classist elements that guide decision-making. In their piece, "The Myth of the Burdensome Immigrants," Prantik Saha and Sapna Pandya force the question, how much of a burden are immigrant workers and communities really? Challenging the scapegoating of immigrants in mainstream as well as independent media for the failure of the U.S. health care system, they reveal the true state of health for South Asian immigrants and the true gaps in a system that is guided too much by lack of access and corporate profiteering.

Meanwhile, in an often neglected corner of New York City, the South Asian and West Indian residents of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park have shown us the emerging power that South Asians voting as a bloc can have. In "From Barely Relevant to Key Voting Bloc," Gurpal Singh shares the groundbreaking organizing efforts of SEVA Immigrant Community Advocacy Project in mobilizing these communities, which have had traditionally low voter turnout, to come out and participate in an historic election for the whole state. Singh gives us a step-by-step account of community organizing that we can replicate as we strengthen South Asian and immigrant communities in their ability to advocate for policies and politicians that reflect their needs.

From Queens, New York, we move to three locations and explore the experiences of three different Muslim communities. Omer Shah reviews Kavita Rajagopalan's new book in "Three Muslim Families, Three Cities: A Review of Muslims of Metropolis" and explores how identity formulates not primarily around Islam per se, but rather, how the experience of a Bangladeshi family in New York, a Palestinian family in London, and a Kurdish family in Germany are of those living as exiles, refugees, migrant workers, illegal immigrants, sons, daughters in their roles as community organizers, social workers, and non-profiteers. Shah describes the book "as a necessary intervention into popular discourse that informs our ideas about Muslims," but questions what it means to downplay their Muslim identities.

Articles in this Issue

Through the stories of a Bangladeshi family in New York, a Palestinian family in London, and a Kurdish family in Germany, Kavitha Rajagopalan's Muslims of Metropolis is a necessary intervention into the popular discourse that informs our ideas about Muslims.

Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West. By Kavitha Rajagopalan. Rutgers University Press, 2008, 283 pages.

Omer Shah

In a matter of months, what was considered a politically inactive community unable to leverage its political power was now being wooed by the rival parties for its attention. The South Asian and West Indian enclaves of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park became integral in deciding which party would control the New York State Senate.

Gurpal Singh

Xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments situate South Asian and other immigrant communities as burdens on the health care system, missing the barriers, racism and classism they experience. To meet the needs of immigrant workers, these structural inequalities need to be addressed and considered in proposals for US health care reform.