Friday, October 11, 2019
The original song speaks to undocumented communities living in hiding. Downs’ rendition is a lively cumbia take on the original, with a focus on current issues at the U.S.-Mexico border as she sings, “If we don’t fight for the children, what will become of us?”
“I mention the immigrant children in the detention centers and sing from the feminine perspective, about the thousands of women and children who migrate today,” she said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Check this out in Time!
As Gomez puts it, "I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country. As a Mexican-American woman I feel a responsibility to use my platform to be a voice for people who are too afraid to speak."
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
I've been searching for the right song to pair with diversity visas for a long time. I can't say I'm done with that search, but here's the song I landed on for this year -- Brandy Clark's Pray to Jesus.
It's a pretty song and the chorus is nicely on point:
So we pray to Jesus and we play the lotto
Cause there ain't but two ways
We can change tomorrow
And there ain't no genie
And there ain't no bottle
So we pray to Jesus and we play the lotto
Monday, September 9, 2019
If you're teaching Korematsu, consider starting with Sarah Kay's 14th Amendment.
It's more spoken word than song, but it's a powerful introduction to the topic of internment.
And for any immprofs out there who also dabble in Con Law -- check out the entire album: 27, featuring songs about every amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Sunday, September 8, 2019
On Friday, I submitted my application for tenure. My word, that was a process. Having taught at two different institutions for over 10 years, it felt a bit like filing backdated taxes in multiple jurisdictions, one of them overseas.
One of my tenure requirements involved writing a statement about my teaching. It was an opportunity to talk about my teaching philosophy and different teaching techniques that I employ.
Readers know that I love to play music in class. But I'm not sure I ever told you who inspired me to to that: immprof Jayesh Rathod (American U.).
Here's what I told my tenure reviewers, in the context of experimenting in the classroom:
When I started teaching, I would occasionally play a song during class. My first course was Immigration Law, and when we discussed terrorism exclusions, I played M.I.A.’s Paper Planes. M.I.A. has a unique immigrant history: She was born in London, moved as an infant to Sri Lanka where her father was a founder of the separatist militant organization called the Tamil Tigers, spent much of her childhood in hiding (avoiding the Sri Lankan army), and eventually returned to London as a child refugee. Her song, Paper Planes, is about her experience with being denied a visa to perform in the United States “due to her politically charged lyrics.” The song is, in her words, about “appearing really threatening to society. But not being so. Because, by the time you’ve finished working a 20-hour shift, you’re so tired you [just] want to get home to the family. I don’t think immigrants are that threatening to society at all. They’re just happy they’ve survived some war somewhere.”
In 2010, I attended a conference for immigration law teachers where I met Jayesh Rathod of American University Washington College of Law. He presented on the idea of playing music before every class. He discussed a two-fold benefit: (1) the opportunity to connect coursework to musical themes in an effort to advance learning, and (2) the opportunity to connect with students through music. Jayesh discussed empirical studies about the benefits of music. Ever since that conference, I play music during the minutes before class starts—when students are turning on their laptops and getting seated. I choose music that connects to our course material and create an on-line playlist for the semester. For example, in Civil Procedure I, when I cover what is needed in a complaint to satisfy the Supreme Court decisions of Twombly and Iqbal, I play “Summer Nights” from the movie Grease. The Supreme Court’s decisions center the idea that plaintiffs cannot begin a lawsuit by stating mere legal conclusions, they must present more: factual allegations that support inferences of misconduct. Thus, the refrain of Summer Nights is particularly apt: “Tell me more, tell me more.”
Students have responded favorably to the music over the years. Students love to think up songs on their own and come to me with their recommendations. I even receive occasional e-mails from former students letting me know about a new song they heard on the radio and how I might incorporate it into class.
So here is my big, fat, public thank you to Jayesh! I am extremely grateful for that 2010 immprof conference in Chicago. Your presentation inspired me -- as did the CD you shared after the conference. I'll be playing The Perfect Nanny by Louis Prima and Gia Maione tomorrow before we discuss Matter of Marion Graham. Still the best song choice!
Monday, April 15, 2019
World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought his Bach Project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on Saturday. Laredo’s “Day of Action” featured performances in both cities to celebrate the relationship between the two communities. Ma played the opening notes of J.S. Bach's "Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello" in a park near the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge, one of the crossings that connect the U.S. and Mexican cities.
"As you all know, as you did and do and will do, in culture, we build bridges, not walls," Ma said. After his performance, he gestured to the bridge. "I’ve lived my life at the borders. Between cultures. Between disciplines. Between musics. Between generations."
Friday, April 12, 2019
I found myself browsing YouTube for a good song to pair with discussion of sanctuary cities. Lo and behold, I found two unusual choices.
First, check out Johnny Guitar's I Wanna Live In A Sanctuary City.
That's the one I've settled on to play. Sure, the sound quality could be better. But the lyrics are charming. How can you not like a line like this: "Donald Trump continues his pedantic rants, he's gonna take away the city's million dollar grants."
The quality of this second video is much better. You would expect that as it's from the Theater for the New City Street Theater Company.
It's a solid choice and I just might play it in the future. But there's an odd rant about the EPA and climate change in the middle. It doesn't stay quite as on point as Johnny Guitar.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Thursday, March 21, 2019
I tend to start the semester with a heady tune like Land of the Free (the Killers) or Borders (M.I.A.). I'm starting to rethink that approach. Let's be honest, the best thing to be done on day one is to welcome the students to the class and get them psyched for the semester to come. No one could possibly do a better job with that mandate than the venerable Sir Mix-a-Lot with his version of Jump On It.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
A week before the Grammy Awards, 21 Savage was arrested in Atlanta and placed in removal proceedings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said he was an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” and charged him with overstaying his visa. He was released a week later on $100,000 bond. 21 Savage — birth name She’yaa bin Abraham-Joseph — was born in London.
"Three days before 21 Savage’s arrest on Feb. 3, LaPolt was already putting an action plan in motion. `We had heard that they were looking at him,' she said.
In late January, 21 Savage performed a new version of his single `A Lot' on `The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,' with lyrics that touched on the issue of children being separated from their parents at the United States border, a controversial Trump administration tactic to discourage illegal immigration.
`There was scuttlebutt after the Jimmy Fallon show' coming from `some very high levels in Washington,' LaPolt added. What she heard suggested that 21 Savage had ruffled feathers."
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Friday, February 8, 2019
This is Malinda Kathleen Reese's second appearance on the immprof blog. She must be honored beyond compare. Malinda is the person behind the fabulous fun of "Google Translate Sings" on youtube where she creates videos that use Google Translate to distort the lyrics and stories of well-known songs.
For years, I've been using her google translate of "Let It Go" as an introduction to teaching court translation. No more! I will be using her rendition of Hamilton from now on.
Big ups to immprof Liz Keyes for bringing this amazingness to my attention.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Check out this new music video from the Killers, directed by Spike Lee. It's for their new song "Land of the Free."
I may play this in class tomorrow. We'll be talking about immigrant detention and I like the lines: "And we got more people locked up than the rest of the world / Right here in red, white and blue (I'm standing, crying) / Incarceration's become big business / It's harvest time out on the avenue."
The Killers' frontman, Brandon Flowers, told one interviewer that the song comes from a place of “enough is enough." “I would start the song, and then I would put it away and say, ‘I’m not the guy to do this’… and then it just piled up... It was just like, ‘I have to get this out.’”
Thank you, Dina Haynes, for the music tip!
Sunday, February 3, 2019
An Atlanta-based rapper known as 21 Savage has been apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A government spokesperson has said that 21 Savage is a citizen of the U.K. who came to the U.S. at the age of 12 and overstayed his visa.
He is a Grammy-nominated artist, appearing on Post Malone's Rockstar, which was up for Record of the Year and Best Rap Performance.
21 Savage isn't just deportable for being out of status. He's got a 2014 drug conviction. And he'll be in removal proceedings in the notoriously tough courts of Atlanta.
Thursday, December 27, 2018
American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. It's a jazz album featuring a 21-piece band and spoken word stories from 53 DACA recipients hailing from 17 states and 17 countries.
Here's their new take on an old favorite, Immigrant Song:
They've also tackled Deportee:
South Coast Today has a nice write up on the album and its artists.
Friday, December 14, 2018
From Hawaii Public Radio:
Sudanese singer Alsarah is known for her powerful voice and eclectic mix of what she calls “East African retro pop.” She and her Brooklyn-based band The Nubatones are in Honolulu for a week-long residency at Shangri La.
Singer, songwriter, and ethnomusicologist Alsarah was born in Sudan to politically active parents. After a coup, her family was forced to flee to Yemen. Then when civil war broke out, they fled to the United States. Many of her songs are reflections of identity and survival.
Monday, November 19, 2018
Friday, November 16, 2018
Chris George is the Executive Director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, Connecticut. As their website touts, IRIS is a "non-sectarian, independent nonprofit refugee resettlement agency that has welcomed more than 5,000 refugees to Connecticut since 1982."
Chris is clearly passionate about his work, letting folks know that he's "got the best job in the world."
One of the things that Chris loves most about resettlement work is the obligation that agencies like his have to provide newly arrived refugees a culturally appropriate hot meal.
That obligation comes from a cooperative agreement that the U.S. Department of State has with national resettlement agencies. As the State Department explains on their website, this agreement requires that:
... all refugees are met at the airport upon arrival in the United States by someone from the sponsoring resettlement affiliate and/or a family member or friend. They are taken to their apartment, which has basic furnishings, appliances, climate-appropriate clothing, and some of the food typical of the refugee’s culture.
National resettlement agencies incorporate this obligation into their agreements with local resettlement organizations like IRIS.
As Chris told the New Haven Independent, it's "the best federal government requirement of all time ... a great way of welcoming people ... with a meal that they're used to as soon as they arrive."
Chris is so passionate about this requirement, that he wrote a song about it. You can find it at 7:10-8:42 in the clip below:
Here are the lyrics:
In Praise of the Culturally Appropriate Hot Meal
Find an apartment. Make sure it’s furnished.
By federal law, to seal the deal,
within two hours of their arrival,
serve them a culturally appropriate hot meal.
You’ve got Republicans and you’ve got Democrats.
And their bickering is so unreal.
If only more things could be bipartisan,
like the culturally appropriate hot meal.
I’m not talking hamburgers. Hold the lasagna!
It’s not the time for ham or veal.
If you’re a refugee, we’re going to welcome you
with a culturally appropriate hot meal.
Arroz con pollo for the Cubans.
Halal, if you’re from Iraq.
The Congolese, they like variety.
Just make it culturally appropriate, and hot!
This song is guaranteed to make you smile. It will be a wonderful addition to your class on refugee resettlement!
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Yesterday, rock legend Billy Idol, who was born in England, became a U.S. citizen yesterday at a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles.
Coincidentally, UC Davis law graduate Desiree Cristina Velasco Zavala sang the national anthem at the ceremony. Here is her post on Facebook:
Today I had the awesome opportunity to sing the national anthem for an event attended by none other than BILLY IDOL, singer of my all-time favorite song in the world-Dancing with Myself! What a huge honor to sing today and have him be in the 1st row-though it was a bit nerve wrecking! I was lucky enough to get some hugs and photos, too. And the judge even asked him how he liked my rendition of the anthem and he said it was great and gave me two thumbs up. Honestly, the BEST work day EVER!!!!
Saturday, October 27, 2018
My Crazy Ex Girlfriend is a show on the CW that intersperses traditional dialogue with dream-sequence song and dance numbers. This week's show featured Don't Be A Lawyer:
Here is one of the most memorable lines: "There are so many other professions that don't turn you into Jeff Sessions."
Also of note, in the midst of the song, an aspiring lawyer inquires "What about human rights law?" The song answers back: "No money, no, no money." Then, "Immigration law?" The answer: "No money, plus it's a bummer."
This is NOT one for the classroom.