There have been escalating tensions among global citizens about the recent rise in immigration and refugees. With rising political and social tensions around the world, roughly 65.6 million individuals (as of 2017) have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
Donald Trump recently made claims about four progressive Congresswomen, asking them to “go back to their countries” to fix the issues that are being faced there, despite three of them being born in America and one becoming a citizen at age 11. Amidst these tensions, we spoke to immigrant, psychologist, and radio host at Radio America, Leanh Nguyen, to discuss rising tensions and perspectives on multiculturalism through the lens of one of her guests, Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran.
Dr. Leanh Nguyen was born in war-torn Vietnam and escaped to Europe as a refugee of Communism. After the refugee camp followed by France, Leanh emigrated to the United States for her higher education. Bringing to her life’s work her lived experiences, Leanh has a multi-national and multi-lingual perspective that she brings to her viewers. In her podcast “On Living”, she interviewed a fellow Vietnamese immigrant about her work as a doctor, a human rights activist, and a politician. The guest is Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran who ran for Congress in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. The two had a very in-depth discussion about the perspectives of immigrants, and how traumatic and transformative the experience can be. When speaking about Donald Trump’s recent comments about the four progressive congresswomen, Leanh Nguyen wants us to remember how powerful diversity can be.
Changing Society for the Better
Donald Trump has said that immigrants change the fabric of our society. However, so does new technology, social media, a native-born population, etc. Dr. Leanh Nguyen explained that immigrants change culture for the better, introducing new ideas, expertise, customs, cuisines and art — rather than erasing the culture, they expand it. Diversity is a strength in this country, not a weakness.
In America, 11 states have no women representing them. Of all the candidates of the house of representatives, genders and races considered, white women make up 14% and women of color make up 9.5%. What is at stake for these women in this upcoming election? It should be noted that about 22 percent of members of the House or Senate are racial or ethnic minorities, the most diverse congress ever. However, Congress remains white overall compared to the rest of the US population. About 78 percent of Congress is white, versus 61 percent of the overall population.
Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that we fail at being human in many ways, including generosity, kindness, and gratitude, and takes great care in reminding her audiences of their humanity. Through the lens of her guest audiences, Leanh highlights the unique perspectives, gifts and insights that diverse populations can offer our communities. Immigrants are a source of diverse knowledge and experience, whose varied perspectives aid in strengthening our economy and widening our horizons. While present rhetoric demonizes and escalates refugee tensions, immigrants can increase innovation, creativity and prosperity in our countries.