Monday, July 4, 2011

Scene and Tennessean celebrate Independence Day with all of our American neighbors

My paper copy of the July 5, 2001 Nashville Scene

Ten years ago, before 9/11, the July 5, 2001 issue of the Nashville Scene launched a feature called, "Nation of Immigrants, City of Immigrants." The subhead read, "Nashvillians--some new, some not so new--reflect on how they arrived here and what they've found."

Independence Day is a perfect day for these reflections. In the Declaration of Independence itself, our founding fathers complained of the King's "obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither."

Today, the Tennessean is joining in the fun, as it has in previous years. Starting from this feature story, four newly minted U.S. citizens tell how they became officially American, including Maria Arbelaez-Lopez, born in Colombia; Alonso Luna, born in Zacatecas, Mexico; and two others, one born in Somalia, and another born in the former Soviet Union.

The Tennessean stories are great to read, and if you like those, you'll get even more out of the 2001 Scene stories. I'll tease you with a couple of excerpts below. You can read the stories in their entirety by clicking on the links to the titles of the stories, or by going straight to the table of contents.

The following excerpt is from the article "Making Our Way in the World," by Marc K. Stengel, a sixth generation Nashvillian who admires but does not share the wanderlust of his family and others:
I feel poorer today for not knowing what courage, pluck, hope, and fear it takes to depart an old home in search of a new one. Perhaps that’s why, with a hearty respect, I watch the tidal ebb and flow of people into and out of Nashville. From the limited perspective of headlines, Nashville’s present immigration experience appears novel, unusual, even sometimes disconcerting. Yet my own family’s story reminds me that in some respects the experiences of today’s newcomers are scarcely different from those of yesterday’s earlier arrivals.
This excerpt is from the article "Border Crossing," the travel journal of 23-year-old Nashville steelworker Hedman, who left behind family in Rio Lindo, Honduras - told to Beverly Keel through his English teacher Brad Buxton:
"Fernando and I don’t smoke or drink, and we go to the Pentecostal Hispanic Church of God. The other members let each other know where jobs are and keep us informed of any important immigration news, as well as word of any disasters in our home countries. When I’m not working, I like to watch soccer or go to the movies, which I think are expensive. We like to go to Opry Mills or Hickory Hollow. At the malls, we’re always scamming on women. We have Web TV, and I’ve chatted with a few women on the Internet. I called women who lived in Pennsylvania and Oregon, but I haven’t met anyone yet. I would like to get married to an American and live here."
There are also stories in the Scene of Ukranian and Italian Nashvillians. joins the Scene and the Tennessean in wishing you and all of our American neighbors a Happy Fourth of July.

Many loud cheers to the Nashville Scene for that issue in 2001 and for its more recent coverage of immigrant and immigration stories, including Brantley Hargrove's encyclopedic review of the local-federal enforcement bureaucracy known as 287(g).

A few more loud cheers to the Scene for its online story archive, where old stories stay alive and accessible, in contrast to City Paper and the Tennessean, whose archives that old have long since crumbled into error messages.

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