Mamdouh and I are in week two of the tour, and we are exhausted and stimulated. In addition to the demanding schedule of 4 cities in 4 days, Mamdouh has been fasting for Ramadan. I don’t know how he finds the energy. Here’s the best of his quotes from this week: at the Harvard Coop last night he was talking about the discrimination historically embedded in our immigration policy. Sometimes people who speak English as their second language come up with just the right way to describe something.
“If you were European, it was so easy for you. You get to Ellis Island, you get your stamp, you get your green card quick, you get citizenship, you get melt, and its all God Bless America. But if you looked like me, you cannot even get in, and you never get melt.”
I love that phrase, “get melt,” because it implies that the individual immigrant doesn’t have full control over the process of joining the so-called melting pot. You get melt by the system and the culture that decides to accept you, and if it doesn’t, well, you’re on your own. Saru Jayaraman has been traveling with us to many of our gigs, and the three of us make for a well-rounded and compelling road show. Last night, 42 people turned out in Cambridge for our reading, and the Coop sold every book it had in stock. Among the 42 were 8 Moroccan hotel workers who came with their organizers from Local 26 UNITE/HERE. I enjoyed watching Mamdouh with all the Moroccans surrounding him. Once I was among the early South Asian organizers in the country, and today there are many, Saru being a prime example. It will be interesting to see what effect Mamdouh’s political activism has on Moroccans. Certainly, these workers were ecstatic to have come across him. They’re starting to see that the process of getting melt is in part one of struggle.