by Abby Nordan
Recently, immigration has been a recurring topic in the media. We hear about refugee crises in foreign countries daily. Donald Trump calls immigrants rapists and drug kingpins. While politicians and internet trolls belittle and criminalize immigrants, many other groups fight to elevate their reputation in America. However, it often seems that, with all the energy we spend on simply justifying the importance of immigrants, we forget what’s equally if not more important – celebrating them. Immigrants are more than just “not criminals” – they are valuable and irreplaceable members of our communities.
That celebration is what Sing Out Strong: Immigrant Voices is accomplishing. Composers and performers, several of whom are the same age as me, are using art to express themselves and White Snake Projects is giving them the platform to do so. Their testimonies, voiced with music and poetry, are powerful. They deserve to be heard by the public.
Hearing their stories made me even more excited for the upcoming premiere of I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams. Not only is it a stunning opera, it is remarkably important for us all to hear. My choir, the Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC), will be participating in Dreamer this fall, and many of our singers are children of immigrants or first-generation Americans themselves. Not only are they hearing their stories represented on a grand and dignified scale, but the opera is tugging at the hearts and minds of BCC’s non-immigrant singers as well – it is showing them just how much of a positive impact immigration has on every American’s life.
Immigrants are our friends, families, employers, colleagues, neighbors, and so much more, but the media too often disagrees. Instead of elevating the overwhelming positive impacts of immigrants on American society, the media and even the President chooses to degrade them with terms like “alien”. In the words of NY-14 congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, “those women and children trying to come here with nothing but the shirts on their back to create an opportunity and provide for this nation are acting more in an American tradition than this President is right now”.
Simply stating that immigrants are not criminals is not justice. Justice is hearing each immigrant in America, documented or otherwise, as an individual, not a statistic. Seeing unique, gifted immigrant voices lifted up and celebrated through Sing Out Strong was one of the most moving moments of my life, and I can’t wait for audiences to experience those unique moments as well this fall.