The death toll of schoolchildren, the agony of migrant families seeking safe haven, the mistrust of the “justice” system by people of color—anthropologists need to determine their role in clotting these social wounds. One way forward, I think, is the intersubjective empathy at anthropology’s core.
Trump’s immigration metaphors set a divisive tone from the top. His immigration metaphors do not constitute “plain speaking,” “strong language,” or “passionate debate,” nor can they be innocently excused as his “own style.” His language is textbook demagoguery, and his immigration metaphors help constitute our current sociopolitical moment.
One crisp January afternoon one of us (Sarah) sat in the living room of Guadalupe, an immigrant farmworker in California’s Central Valley, as she explained why she had refused to accept Emergency Medicaid to cover her children’s delivery. Quietly and calmly, as though she were describing an ordinary event, Guadalupe shared how she and her husband scraped together the funds each month—on a farmworking salary averaging about $18,000 a year—to pay off the more than $20,000 debt they owed hospitals for the births of their children.
The day was hot. The lively sounds of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival surrounded us—speakers presenting on stage, a parade of Catalonian giant puppets, passersby chatting about what to eat for lunch, and music from an Armenian avant-garde jazz band off in the distance.
The debate on immigration has recently boiled over, with border policy being brought front-and-center. This more recent attention and uproar was ignited by reports of children being separated from their parents at the United State’s southern border. Whether images of children being detained or the chilling audio of children crying out for their parents, these children triggered something intensely emotional for all sides.
Since its formal initiation after the 2017 AAA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, the Members’ Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) has made significant progress in its priority areas. Led by the gender equity seats, Gabriela Torres and Dianna Shady, MPAAC convened the Sexual Harassment Working Group in February 2018.