Since the Trump administration came into power, we have seen an influx of conversation circling the issue of immigration rights in the United States. This topic of discussion has touched Seattle University’s campus and the city of Seattle directly, and has personally affected many lives.
This conversation continued on Thursday night at the screening of the PBS POV documentary, “Don’t Tell Anyone” (“No Le Digas A Nadie”), hosted by the Seattle U Anthropology Club in honor of World Anthropology Day.
“I think it’s especially important to incorporate anthropology in this issue because it’s this faceless demographic and that’s precisely what anthropology looks to do—to paint a picture of who somebody is or to give a face to a story or to an experience,” said Fiona Tiene, an anthropology student and Treasurer of the Anthropology Club.
“Don’t Tell Anyone” (“No Le Digas A Nadie”) is an eye-opening documentary that tells the story of a young undocumented woman from Colombia living in New York.
This PBS POV follows Angy Rivera as she fights for her human rights by protesting, publicly coming out as undocumented and filing for a visa that could change her life.
This documentary is powerful, hopeful and at times heartbreaking. The viewer is able to see Rivera’s world from her perspective and get a sense of what life as an undocumented immigrant is like in the United States.
Rivera explains that from a young age, her mother has carried a deep fear of being deported, and she taught Rivera the same caution, constantly warning her to keep her status a secret. After graduating from high school Rivera became involved in a supportive community of immigrants and began to channel her energy into something greater than herself.
Rivera “came out” as undocumented in front of the immigration building in New York City, finding a deep empowerment in that action.
“Don’t Tell Anyone” is incredibly relevant to the crisis immigrants and refugees today are facing in the U.S. The film provides insight for those who worry their perspective on the issue is limited.
Although the story follows just one woman, and every undocumented person’s experience is different and unique, the film does offer an opportunity to recognize the common fears and difficult experiences undocumented people face.
A panel hosted by members of the anthropology department followed the film. Panelists included sociology, anthropology and social work instructor Jason Miller, Carlos Rodriguez, who is an undocumented Seattle U student and Julia Wignall, an anthropologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The panel spoke about how anthropology and human rights for undocumented people are connected, as well as how we can improve our understanding of these issues.
Miller believes that anthropology works toward humanizing people. He explained that humanization is exactly what we need to improve when we speak about this issue of the crisis undocumented people face in the U.S.
“I think the thing that really resonated with me was the fear and stress that undocumented students are under,” Miller said.
Wignall, who has a background in working with activists for immigration rights, explained how important an understanding of anthropology is for controversial topics like this.
“In my personal opinion, I don’t think anthropology can exist without activism,” Wignall said.
The panel discussed the ways anthropology can aid movements toward a more humane world through a holistic approach to issues.
Panelists said bringing important topics to campus is a crucial step toward activism for human rights. This film screening and panel offered a safe space for students to learn more about the topic and feel comfortable asking questions.
“The conversation about undocumented students on campus hasn’t been talked about as much as it should be or as much as other campuses have,” Rodriguez said.
Our university’s holistic approach to education allows conversations like this to take place on campus, and gives students an opportunity to understand more deeply the issues that affect our current political and social climate.
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