Ti Chou's Journey

It's a common story of hyphenated identity: In Auntie Luce's Talking Paintings, a young girl flies to Haiti to visit her maternal aunt -- a journey to a distant ancestral homeland, bridging divides that are physical, cultural, generational. For many years, it was the story of my own childhood.

 

But in this political moment, Ti Chou’s journey -- rich with history, heroes, and cultural pride -- carries a special urgency, as immigrant families, and especially children, face an increasingly threatening reality.

The dignity and safety of immigrants are under major attack. This is especially true for immigrants of color, as they are targeted with hateful rhetoric and inhumane policies, from sweeping workplace raids to the separation of parents from their children at the border. Thousands of immigrants have been forced to return to countries in which they were born but have never really known. The attack on immigrants includes those of Haitian descent, who face deportation from the US in mass numbers: In July 2019, by order of the Trump administration, about 59,000 Haitians who have lived under protected status are set to be sent back to Haiti.

In this climate, telling our own stories stands as a form of protest all its own. Storytelling is crucial to affirming our humanity -- as immigrants, as children of immigrants, as people of color. With each story we tell, we counter the negative stereotypes at the heart of these unjust laws, and we write ourselves into America's conversation on our own terms, using our own words.