Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Good Immigrant - book review

The good immigrant is a collection of essays crowdfunded into this book. The first impression was “I didn’t know the Chinese felt alienated” aren’t they called the model minority? Successful, assimilated, and a series of similar snapshots framing people yet book stories are more than modelling and stereotypes. Its candid glances into personal life, intimate and oozing with dreams and vulnerabilities. The book reflects experiences of immigrants with diverse background thus give you a flavour of all aspects of how minorities perceive themselves.


The book reflects the views of second generation media, publishing and performance art professionals and does not include the wider society. It concerns itself with politics and an intellectual version of identity. The truth is the UK has a long history of welcoming people from across the globe. Some of them arrived here fearing their lives and were granted stay and the welfare state held their hand to help stand on their feet.
The whole picture is complex, paradoxical and wholly indeterminist galvanised by actions and reactions involving cultures, individuals, differences, institutions, businesses, weather, geography, housing and a list that I am not going to fit here. The sentiment of settlers varied depending on quality of life that relates to their education, interest in culture and enthusiasm in confronting their prejudices. A German study looking at immigrant over long term of 30 years shows that people who are enthusiastic about their new country were happier at native country than those who found immigration difficult. To reduce this to a monotone shrill is a disservice for those who have been accommodated, who have found love and acceptance.

The book would have greatly benefited from three further stories. The first two of immigrants who is first generation and dealing with a whole new range of challenges trying to find their way in bureaucracy and highly organised society with its set of invisible obstacles. Another one a tale of none media professional, an immigrant concerned with issues that are pigment blind that affect each of us and are not born of identity and taste.

Third would be an account of a White author on their experience of dealing with key real-life relationships with non-Whites when they were forced to dismantle and confront their stereotypes or when creating a non-White character or milieu, their need to exoticise and the private conflicts they face doing so. The second hand experiences they hold on minorities, their strength and roots.


In this era of cultural hype and the rejuvenated politics of identity I tend to incline toward a post racial outlook where issues that are real become a topic of identity. Mainstream media is prone to hijacking by intellectual political discourse hence removed from reality. The most prominent example is the mainstream media that is concerned with experts and intellectuals of certain type and had peeled from reality the backlash of which is the right wing or populism response. This is a mainstream book by non-whites who are the product of mainstream white culture. 
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