Friday, September 17, 2021
Check out Yes I Am (American) by Malini Sur:
In an early verse Sur sings: "Yes I am an American. And my skin in brown. I am an American, with a name you can pronounce."
Later, she references SB 1070, singing: "Who are you? And do you belong? You're looking like you are strange."
Her response? "Yes I am an American, as god-fearing as you."
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
The Pogues are a Celtic punk band. Tell me that doesn't intrigue you! My older sister was introduced to their music in college and helpfully passed along an appreciation of the band to me. There's a flavor of immigration in several of their songs, but I'll highlight just two.
First up: Thousands Are Sailing
"Ah, no", says he, "it was not to be
On a coffin ship I came here
And I never even got so far
That they could change my name"
Next, check out Body of an American
This one you may be familiar with, if you're a mega-fan of The Wire. It was a favorite sing-a-long when the cops got drunk. The song's about a wake for an Irish-American boxer who's body has been shipped back to Ireland for burial.
Choice lyric: "I'm a free-born man of the USA"
Thursday, August 5, 2021
President for six months, Joe Biden has faced many immigration challenges and high hopes after the Trump years of tough and unforgiving immigration enforcement. How is he doing?
Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee's US/Mexico Border Program: Grade: D
Carlos Rojas Rodriguez, longtime immigration organizer who Biden told to 'vote for Trump': Grade: F
Lee Gelernt, deputy director ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project: Grade: N/A
Roberto Lopez and Laura Peña, TX Civil Rights Project: Grade: D/F
Bob Carey, former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under President Obama: Grade: B/B+
Oliver Merino, coordinator for Immigration Legal Resource Center: Grade: F
Vicki Gaubeca, director of Southern Border Communities Coalition: Grade: B-
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
The blues is a genre uniquely suited to convey the pathos of immigration. Check out Chris Rea's Immigration Blues:
Some choice lyrics:
Don't know where my cousin went to
Maybe they sent him back alone
I miss the ones I left so badly
Maybe I should have stayed back home
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Add a little reggae to your immigration playlist with Coco Tea's New Immigration Law:
The song dates to 1997 and, I'm guessing based on the timing (I can't find any interview to confirm absolutely) that it's about the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), Pub. L. No. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009 (1996).
Some choice lyrics: "the Law, treating everyone like outlaw" and "it might earn you indefinite detention."
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Each year since 2008, around Memorial Day, a transnational jam session happens on both sides of the wall at the Tijuana-San Diego border. This Fandango Fronterizo Festival inspired Grammy-winning musician and composer Arturo O’Farrill to launch a three-part project (album, book and film) under the title Fandango at the Wall to explore the close connections between Mexico and the United States. For this concert O’Farrill and his special guests tear down musical walls, exploring jazz, classical, Broadway, hip hop and son jarocho. NPR interviewed O'Farrill and discussed how he's not only crossing artificial borders but erasing them.
Good news for those in the UC Davis area. Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Band plus Villalobos Brothers and the Conga Patria Son Jarocho Collective will appear at the Mondavi Center on October 14.
Friday, July 2, 2021
Check out the music video from a day laborer band, Los Jornaleros del Norte. For more than 25 years, the band has told the stories and struggles of immigrant communities.
Enjoy the classic Mexican song Sabor A Mi.
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Check out Illegal en Estyle by María del Pilar:
Yo no cruzo la frontera con mis tenis marca brinca me llevan al norte.
En avión sin bigotes en tour bus, no a pata.
How does she cross the border? Not by foot, but by plane. She's illegal, in style.
This song is the perfect accompaniment to a conversation about how more undocumented migrants today are visa overstayers as opposed to border crossers.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Banished, by MF DOOM (Daniel Dumile), a collaboration with Jneiro Jarel, opens with: “Villain got banished/Refused out the U.S., he ain’t even Spanish.” Other sweet lyrics: "No, not deported/ Be a little minute before things get sorted."
Over at Pitchfork, Noah Yoo has the skinny about DOOM, and his "Lifelong Struggle With the U.S. Immigration System."
This article is worth a READ. Seriously. Quick version:
DOOM came to the US on a B2 visa as an infant in 1971. His mom (an immigrant from Trinidad) filed a family-based petition for him when he was three. The petition was approved but was never followed up by a visa application, apparently because his mother didn't have the money to pursue it. In 1993, he pled guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault, paid a fine and restitution, and served probation. In the course of his rap career, he went to Canada in 2004 and had trouble returning to the US. He said he thought he was a USC or LPR; he was neither. He sought registry. The government served an RFE and ultimately denied the application saying the request for evidence wasn't responded to. He left the country again on tour, and was deemed inadmissible upon his return in 2011 based upon: (i) not having a visa, (ii) CIMT, (iii) unlawful presence. He tried to enter again in 2012, and again was denied. In an interview with Q magazine in 2012, he said: “I’m done with the United States, it’s no big deal.” DOOM died in 2020.
Y'all, the exam just writes itself!
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Diana Jones is a NYC based singer songwriter and her new CD Song To A Refugee (released yesterday) is a "heartfelt folk record focusing on the refugee crisis around the world as well as the border crisis." Here is the video for her song "We Believe You" (featuring Richard Thompson, Steve Earle and Peggy Seeger):
As Jones told the New York Times, “It’s important that we have people in our lives who believe us, especially for traumatized people — people who, in this case, are being demonized or ‘othered’ for wanting a safe haven and, eventually, a home.”
This song would be a truly excellent introduction to your discussion of issue of credibility in asylum cases.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
I first heard The Linda Lindas perform in the Netflix film Moxie. I became an immediate fangirl, following them on instagram. The members of The Linda Lindas are all tween and teenage girls--10(!), 13, 14, and 16. They are "Half Asian and half Latinx. Two sisters, a cousin, and their close friend."
Yesterday, the band performed their song Racist, Sexist Boy at the LA Public Library. Mila (10) introduces the song saying: "A little while before we went into lockdown a boy in my class came up to me and said that his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people. After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me." Mila responded by co-writing this song with her bandmate Eloise.
You are a racist sexist boy / And you have racist sexist joys / We rebuild what you destroy
You say mean stuff / And you close your mind to things you don’t like / You turn away from what you don’t want to hear.
Man. These girls ROCK.
I'm pretty sure this is going to be my new anthem heading into discussion of Chae Chan Ping.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Check out Gaby Moreno's song Ave Que Emigra (Migrating Bird) from her soundtrack Illustrated Songs. It's one of the songs Moreno performed in her tiny desk concert for NPR in 2011 (the song starts at 2:42).
Vengo desde muy lejos (I come from far away)
Buscando el azul del cielo (Looking for the blue of the sky)
Siguiendo predicamentos (Following predicaments)
Vengo desde muy lejos (I come from far away)
Moreno hails from Guatemala. And, as I learned from her twitter profile, she's the co-writer of the Parks and Rec theme song! (Sharp readers may know Moreno's made our playlist before with her rendition of Across the Borderline.)
Saturday, March 20, 2021
Saturday nights were made for Pitbull. His song Can't Have is one for the immprofs.
For talking about immigrants who find things harder in the U.S. than they thought things would be:
The grass looks greener on the other side
Til you get to the other side, haha
Yet the song also includes these words about immigrant success:
First we shined the shoes
Then we own the shoe shop
First we make the sandwich
Then we own the restaurants
First then we clean the house
Then we own every house on the block
Not bad for some immigrants
Sunday, March 7, 2021
It's Sunday night, a good time for a song that's not new, but perhaps new to you.
Check out "La Jaula de Oro" by Los Tigres del Norte. It tells the story of an immigrant from Mexico, who has been living in the U.S., undocumented, for 10 years. He misses Mexico, but cannot return. When he talks about this with his son, his son responds in English, that he doesn't want to go back. The saddest lines are about his kids:
Piensan como americanos,
Niegan que son Mexicanos,
Auque tengan mi color,
The U.S., he concludes, is a cage made of gold (La Jaula de Oro). He is a prisoner who earns money but doesn't venture out on the streets because he's afraid of deportation.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Friday, February 12, 2021
Anastasia Tsioulcas for NPR interviewed interviewed internationally-acclaimed musician Kayhan Kalhor discusses his travels from, and return to, Iran (including tangles with U.S. immigration authorities). Kalhor's music
"is rooted in rigorous erudition, a tradition so distinctive and so precious that it's been named to the United Nations' list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
His instrument, the kamancheh, is a small, dusky-toned, four-stringed, bowed upright fiddle, with a delicate sound that belies its emotional intensity. He composes, sings and plays several other instruments as well.
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Here is a provocative ad from The Ad Council: Belonging Begins With Us. It's about welcoming those who have moved to this country. As the council states:
We’ve all had moments where we felt like we didn’t belong. But for people who moved to this country, this experience can last more than a moment. Belonging Begins With Us is a new campaign dedicated to fostering a more welcoming nation where everyone – regardless of their background – can belong. This new work features exclusive new music from Lake Street Dive, covering Joe South's 1968 hit "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." Lake Street Dive appears courtesy of Nonesuch Records. #BelongingBeginsWithUs
Saturday, February 6, 2021
Sometimes you just want to start class with a song that's quiet and calm. Simon & Garfunkel's American Tune is about as chill as it comes. But it's hardly hopeful. They sing:
And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Rolling Stone wrote about the song in 2020, describing it as a timeless "reflection of America's weary, restless mood," where we "dream of flying above it all while symbols of hope slowly recede from view."