logo
g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

dailyclick
Bored? Games!
Nutrition
Postcards
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

new
Action Movies
Bible Basics
Houseplants
Romance Movies
Creativity
Family Travel
Southwest USA


dailyclick
All times in EST

Full Schedule
g
g Democratic Party Site

BellaOnline's Democratic Party Editor

g

The Accidental American

Guest Author - Susan Gaissert

I must begin with deepest thanks to Rinku Sen and Fekkah Mamdouh for sharing the story of The Accidental American. This is not just an important book; it is a masterful book, educating and engrossing the reader on many levels. Its scope provides a look at conditions for immigrants from pre-9/11 New York to New York in 2008. Its focus shifts between close-ups of individual immigrants and wide-angle views of immigration policy. The reader closes this book in a completely different place from where she opened it.

Rinku Sen is the president and executive director of the Applied Research Center (ARC), and Fekkak Mamdouh is the cofounder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) and the codirector of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-U). These are busy people doing worthwhile things. The Accidental American is Fekkak, called Mamdouh throughout the book. Ms. Sen begins by telling the story of his reaction to losing his job at the Windows on the World restaurant when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001. Mamdouh is a Morrocan immigrant, and from his history Sen seamlessly moves to the stories of other Windows workers.

These people are immigrants, many of them undocumented, and Sen stresses the fact that they want to work, have skills and goals, and want to be legal, but are forced by the current global trade structure to leave their impoverished countries and then forced by the current immigration policy to live in a class below that of American citizens and below that of legal immigrants.

The book's most powerful sentence refers to how these people are called illegals: "When people break other laws," Sen writes, "we donít attach the stigma of illegality to their entire beings." She is right.

So many stories and perspectives are gathered here into one epic mosaic of the immigrant experience and its relation to globalization: there is Mamdouh's transformation from a union shop steward to a labor organizer, and the creation of the Restaurant Opportunities Center, which helps mistreated immigrant restaurant workers achieve their rights; there is Sen's reasoned explanation of how neoliberal policies created the climate for the current unsatisfactory conditions surrounding immigration, and there is her bravura chapter describing how businesses and those who wish to restrict immigration have control over the debate on the subject, while immigrants themselves have no voice.

When placed next to the shiny, attention-catching covers of other current-affairs books, The Accidental American may look grim and text-book-like. It is not. The story is one of hard work, hope, and longing -- longing for a kind of globalization in which immigrants can freely choose to become citizens and then do so in a cooperative atmosphere -- with no stigmas attached.


This site needs an editor - click to learn more!

Add The+Accidental+American to Twitter Add The+Accidental+American to Facebook Add The+Accidental+American to MySpace Add The+Accidental+American to Del.icio.us Digg The+Accidental+American Add The+Accidental+American to Yahoo My Web Add The+Accidental+American to Google Bookmarks Add The+Accidental+American to Stumbleupon Add The+Accidental+American to Reddit




RSS | Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map


For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Democratic Party Newsletter


Past Issues


print
Printer Friendly
bookmark
Bookmark
tell friend
Tell a Friend
forum
Forum
email
Email Editor


Content copyright © 2014 by Susan Gaissert. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan Gaissert. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

g


g features
How to Lobby Congress

Funding Public Broadcasting

Help Women and Girls Worldwide

Archives | Site Map

forum
Forum
email
Contact

Past Issues
memberscenter


vote
Poetry
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Less than Monthly



BellaOnline on Facebook
g


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2014 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


BellaOnline Editor