Claudine Moreno Lormé, Artistic Director of Domestic Worker Social Media Campaign
1. If you are an immigrant, tell us what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. If you are not an immigrant, tell us how the immigrant issue touches you on personal level.
November 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of my great-grandfather arriving in America from Southern Italy. My mother located his ship records through the Ellis Island foundation and we’re celebrating the anniversary with a trip to his home town. I created a website to document his journey and our friends and extended family are excited about the story of our family. As I document our history, I can’t help but notice how Americans romanticize the ancestral European immigrant story yet reject many modern day immigrants from other countries, particularly Latinos. My father’s parents were immigrants from Spain and Mexico who settled in the Mission area of San Francisco. He and his family experienced prejudice for being Latino, so as a young adult, my dad felt he had to change his name from José to Joseph to ease the discrimination. Though he was fluent in Spanish, he didn't speak it around his his children. He handed down no old-world traditions or family stories. He was so determined to be respected and shield us from prejudice that he sacrificed his identity and half of ours.
I’ve also experienced the challenges of being an immigrant. I emigrated to Germany in my twenties and lived there for nearly ten years. In my first few years, I experienced frustration and humiliation trying to communicate. I struggled with the language barrier and cultural differences, taking jobs that were well below my capabilities until my language skills improved. Knowing you can always go back to your own country gives one a certain confidence and resilience. I had the luxury of not needing to live in Germany. I chose to live there.
2. For better or for worse how can or how does media (TV, movies, radio, news stories) make a difference in immigrants’ lives?
New media has given people a voice. It's taken what was the exclusive domain of large corporations and news media and democratized communication. Now anyone can make a small film or commercial, write their story, opine about issues that affect them and share these views with millions of people. Immigrants need to use online tools to share their experiences and find support.
3. Tell us about an interesting or wise practice from another culture that you wish people in the United States would adopt.
Government funded health care for everyone!
4. How could immigrant health and well being be improved in your city or in the United States?
We need to change the perception of immigrants as people in need to people who contribute. Reframe the conversation to focus on what immigrants give our country: hard workers, intelligence, cultural diversity, fresh perspectives... Immigrants aren't looking for hand outs. They arrive ready to pull themselves up by their boot straps and get on with it. They are no different than the immigrants who arrived 100 years ago.
5. Tell us something about your background that led you to become the person you are today. What is your greatest motivation/motivator?
As the daughter of a career Marine, I had to move around the country quite often. I learned how to adapt and embrace new people and different cultures. The experience gave me a nomadic spirit and interest in other people’s stories. My mother is an artist, so I was surrounded by creativity. It seemed second nature to work in a field that used art and design to convey ideas.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.