Immigrant Voices: A Photo Narrative

You will ask me where I am from and I will tell you I am American. The people of my skin belong to this land…

If you look at America through family pictures, you will unfold the truth of what it means to be an immigrant and see the roots we have planted. The immigrant experience speaks of a duality and exemplifies the resistance and survival of living within two worlds, two cultures, two languages. Immigrants must learn to navigate both in order to survive in a new landscape of endless oppression and violence. Our voices must arise from our own flesh and blood, our own human bodies, because otherwise, we have no control of how we are categorized into groups that diminish our complexities and identities.

Through our own images, we will be seen. Through our own stories, we will no longer be erased.

~Preetpal Gill

~

~

The United States has taken away so much from me. The United States took away the tenderness and softness I once knew from my family. It took away my mother’s land and had to take my father in as their son.
~Jessica, 22, Chichanx/Latinx/Mestizo

~

Being a biracial daughter of an immigrant means understanding that death and rebirth can coexist. Two worlds always at war. It’s Stockholm syndrome in a way, loving and living in the country that played its own hand in your forced removal from a motherland. We create whole worlds here hoping to find home and yet, we are still constantly arriving. I’m learning to navigate a deeper understanding of self—what it means to be the storyteller of generational narratives. I reject silence and I hope it makes my mom proud.
~Alyshia Tuyet Gonzalez, 25, Vietnamese/Mexican

~

Don’t let your family legacy be your tragedy. There are too many of us constantly striving to make our families proud that we forget in the tradition of keeping their stories and narratives alive, we suppress our own. I am the product of stepping out of a general narrative and it would be a damn shame if I settled for anything other than extraordinary.
~Jamila Khan, 24, Afro Desi American

~

Que lindos ojos tienen!” Ojos verdes como los olives de granada. Piel mas blanca que nuestros primos. Nos dicen gueros. Blancos. Gringos. Somos Mexicanos. Somos latinos. Hijos de migrantes.
~Lerman Montoya, 22, Mexican-American

~

~

Being an immigrant to me means finding your space in an unfamiliar place. My space is my mom and my siblings. My space is Swahili and Kirundi. My space is Congo, Kenya, and Rwanda. My space is kikwembes, kanisa, na ku karibisha. These things keep me grounded and give me power in knowing that wherever I go I’ll always have my space.
~Laila Kabongi, 22, Kenyan

Image Credit: Raoul Deal (artist), SB1070 Collection, ASU Library Archives