To Lisa Barton and the Leadership at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan,
We, the undersigned, volunteered to participate in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) series entitled “Voices of Local Minorities” on behalf of the Asian-American, LGBT, and Latino communities in Washtenaw County. We were later informed that Mark Krikorian, Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, was invited by OLLI to speak in November. Thus, we have collectively withdrawn from our presentations to oppose OLLI’s invitation of Mark Krikorian.
Krikorian, who opposes birthright citizenship, is the Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group for its “repeated circulation of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers in its weekly newsletter and the commissioning of a policy analyst who had previously been pushed out of the conservative Heritage Foundation for his embrace of racist pseudoscience.” Krikorian has used anti-immigrant rhetoric to justify, among other anti-immigrant policies, the separation of children from parents on the U.S./Mexico border. William Lopez discussed further reasons for his opposition to Krikorian when he withdrew from the series on June 14, 2018.
OLLI organizers justified Krikorian’s invitation by saying that he represents a “diversity of perspectives.” We reject the notion that racist, classist, xenophobic, and homophobic perspectives are simply a matter of diversity. While we welcome a civil, fact-based debate about immigration in this country, we will not tolerate blatant attempts at marginalization passed off as perspective.
While we, as “voices” of different communities, stand in solidarity against unjust, race-based immigration enforcement and the rhetoric used to justify it, our stance extends beyond issues of immigration. Rhetoric of dehumanization has historically been used to strip rights from marginalized communities, including the LGBT and Asian-American communities.
Simply, we stand together in our opposition to hate-based rhetoric that seeks to do our communities harm, strip us of rights, and separate our families.
-William D. Lopez, PhD, MPH, son of a Mexican immigrant, member of the Washtenaw County Latino community
-Toni Kayumi, daughter of a Japanese immigrant, member of the Washtenaw County Asian American community
-Sandra Samons, PhD, LMSW, therapist and long-time advocate for the Washtenaw County transgender community