“They want us workers, but they don’t want us as people.” – Dr. Robyn Rodriguez
On Thursday, November 30th, we were proud to partner with the Filipino Googler Network (FGN) and Filipino Ohana at Salesforce in the co-organizing and co-hosting of Dr. Robyn Rodriguez, Professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis, in a TED-style talk on the major themes of her recently released book, “In Lady Liberty’s Shadow: The Politics of Race & Immigration in New Jersey”.
Dr. Robyn Rodriguez – Dr. Rod – (also our closing keynote at our 2017 Fly Pinays) is a mentor to many of the leaders in our organization and broader community, in the realms of scholarship, academia/education, and human/immigrant rights activism. In an intimate setting, held at YouTube in San Bruno, CA, Dr. Rod engaged the audience in a retelling of the historic redlining policies, anti-immigrant legislation and ordinances, and continued discriminatory practices seen in New Jersey localities, supported by local governments, till this day.
As a six-year resident of New Jersey, Dr. Rod took her research and study throughout the Garden State, from urban to rural communities, as she sought to unravel the experiences and narratives of community members with fresh stories of immigration, victims of anti-immigrant sentiment, and study local elected leaders that authored anti-immigrant legislation. In a state as seemingly diverse as New Jersey, many audience members tilted their heads in awe of the realities presented, contorting their faces into dismay.
Two attendees who happened to be from New Jersey, silently nodded in agreement, arms folded.
Following Dr. Rod’s talk, the floor was opened for a Q&A dialogue, where many attendees inquired about how they might be able to make changes in their own communities – to which Dr. Rod responded with believing in the “power of the local” and leading change within our companies/organizations, community groups, and in local movements.
One thing is for sure, there is much work to be done. Although many would contend that the Bay Area is a bubble (Bay Area) within a bubble (Northern CA) within a bubble (California), and that we exist in our own “utopian” world – this is far from true, and to ignite and create sustainable, genuine change, we must continue the work daily. Dr. Rod’s talk and the subsequent audience conversation were both salient reminders of the political undercurrent and movement of our country. The evening underscored how we mustn’t sneeze at 2018 with regard to upcoming local and state elections, and most notably on the horizon, our 2020 presidential race.
Special shout outs to Alex Bautista, Filipino Googler Network; James Binauhan, Filipino Ohana at Salesforce; and Eleaine Reyes and Jay Page, LEAD Filipino, for planning and making this beautiful event happen.
Check out Dr. Robyn Rodriguez’s book, “In Lady Liberty’s Shadow: The Politics of Race & Immigration in New Jersey” as the work chronicles and captures her research of migrant and immigrant worker communities through the six years she resided in New Jersey, as a Professor at Rutgers University.