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The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
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The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

Are you tired of looking for mere data and statistics or the human story in immigration? The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla takes you into the minds and feelings of migrants from different countries and different experiences.

I first stumbled on the book after I made up my mind to read at least three books a month, following some interesting audio programs on YouTube by such motivational speakers as Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn and others. The first two books I choose on my immigrant related field were “The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla” and Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray. I will write about the Strange Death of Europe in the next article.

Nikesh Shukla is a writer of fiction and television and host of the Subaltern podcast. His debut novel, Coconut Unlimited was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011.

Just so you can have a better feel of the story, the book’s synopsis is here reposted for you to read and it’s as followed.

How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport? Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race?

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.

I must say that this book was really an eye opener for me. Having be hearing the same thing for over 5 years of research into the presence of Africans to northern Italy, 1976 till date, the 21 different stories in the “The Good Immigrant” were a confirmation that this is truly a global issue about migrants, irrespective of their countries of origin.

Whether the host country is United States, UK or other European countries, and whether the migrant is from south America, Africa or Asia, their complains are almost always the same: Stereotype, Discrimination, Hyper-Sexualization among many others.

On how the western mainstream media have managed to craft out a separate style of reporting for the minority ethnic groups, such the migrants in their midst, I found analyses and articles to help. Here is one article you might want to read for yourself: “We Need to Talk About the Media’s Complicity in Violence Against Immigrants”.

Here is a clip from the article:

“The federal immigration agency targeted 680 undocumented workers across seven food processing plants in six Mississippi cities. The raid included workers at Koch Foods, a poultry supplier that last year settled two discrimination lawsuits filed on behalf of its Latino workers.

Immediately after the raid, as panicked and grief-stricken families tried to figure out what happened to their loved ones, journalists were on the scene shoving cameras into the faces of crying, traumatized children. These images quickly spread on social media with calls to “make it go viral,” and the videos and photos were callously shared thousands of times.” -Tina Vasquez, Rewire.News.

This is a style of reporting that most people in the west a quite comfortable with. After all, the provoking graphics in the news are usually about the other people or migrants in this case. It is only in few instances that people from the migrant community have come up to challenge those awful images and their representation in the news.

This is why the “The Good Immigrant” is very interesting, because it presents the other side of the story that is hardly ever considered, the point of view of the migrants. I really enjoyed the book and I will recommend it all who truly care about the feelings of migrants or the human story in immigration. Start a free class to improve yourself today!

Obehi EwanfohWriter and online instructor to help migrants improve themselves.

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