Online Magazine Aims to Share Diverse Stories of Immigrant Success12 Nov 2014
As the recent spate of mid-term election advertisements demonstrated, immigration reform remains a hot-button issue in U.S. politics. Candidates on both sides made their positions on legislation providing an eventual path to citizenship for more than eleven million undocumented immigrants a fundamental element of their campaign. Some tout it as a necessary and long-overdue measure to tap into the skills and talent of the immigrant community, while others decry it as nothing more than amnesty, and a dangerous step for our nation to take. And immigrants, caught in the crossfire, may find themselves frustrated by the shortage of media that choose to paint an honest portrayal of their everyday experiences as they live and work in the United States.
Pamela Anchang is hoping to change that, as the founder of the online publication Immigrant Magazine. Although many large metropolitan areas offer publications that cater to specific immigrant populations, Anchang’s magazine is different in that it features a wide range of perspectives and stories that represent the immigrant experience as a whole, because there is so much that all immigrants share. Originally established in 2004 as a print magazine, it is now a website and online newsletter funded solely by advertisements and donations. Anchang states that she developed the idea for Immigrant Magazine to “build a bridge” between different immigrant communities, and drew from her own challenging immigration experience over twenty years ago. [See Rath, Arun. Interview with Pamela Anchang. ‘Immigrant Magazine’ Gives Voice to a Range of Communities, National Public Radio. Web. 02.Nov.2014.]
Anchang was studying to be a teacher in her native country of Cameroon when, in 1994, her cousin became leader of a powerful political opposition group intent on deposing the country’s long-sitting president. Fearful of reprisals, she came to the United States to begin a new life as a teacher in Washington D.C. But cultural barriers proved difficult. Her middle school students bullied her and made fun of her accent. “The kids couldn’t relate to me,” said Anchang in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. Anchang soon moved to California and found the diverse population to be more accepting. As she began to develop a camaraderie with the local immigrant community, she realized that “even though we don’t look the same, we have a shared experience.” Anchang decided to start Immigrant Magazine to capture that shared experience. She continues to work out of her home office in Southern California with the help of a small staff of volunteer writers. [See Editor of Southland Based Magazine Wants to Share Immigrants’ Stories, by Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, 19.Oct.2014.]
Although Immigrant Magazine has developed a more political slant in recent years, its main intent is to share a myriad of positive stories about immigrant success in America. Recent articles include features about a Korean TV show dealing with mental illness, palliative care in the ChineseAmerican community, and a new album from a popular Guinean musician. And, as the national conversation on immigration becomes more heated, Anchang’s goal remains simple: “My mission,” she says, “is to uplift.”
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