I have been working on the theme of Caribbean migration for over a decade now and my primary interest there is understanding how people first came to Connecticut primarily to work in the tobacco industry and how they eventually leverage those opportunities to become the largest immigrant group in the population my specific iteration of the project for the initiative on.
Campus dialogues focuses on how my study can help to change the conversations people are having about immigrants.
And immigration about issues like like quotas like guest workers coming to.
The United States I think every generation in the United States can probably say that immigration is a real-world problem from understanding quota systems that let in only particular groups into the United States including particular national groups to systems that let in refugees and asylees for example or systems that welcomed and promoted the use of guest laborers in the United States whether that was the bracero program that brought in Mexican workers or the similarly inspired program that brought West Indian migrants to the.
Northeast and to the south to work in tobacco or to work in the sugarcane industry or to work picking apples my.
Wants to help provoke a larger conversation among people who don’t know anything at all or who maybe haven’t encountered any particular immigrant groups.
That they went to church with or.
Were neighbors of because I think this research can make it very easy for us to understand that we all have the same hopes and the same dreams and the same fears and that ultimately we’re all humans and the fact that I’m an immigrant.
From Jamaica and somebody is an immigrant from Italy.
Or is descended from immigrants from Italy or Poland or Germany makes us still makes us all Americans and.
That we all have the have the right to to be here the primary challenge is funding you know getting the kind of funding to help support this work because once I realized that the conventional spaces didn’t have the kind of records to support telling this story.
I had to add oral history as a major component to the.
Study and while I certainly can execute a.
Lot of oral histories transcribing the oral histories actually costs more than cause more than doing them so.
It’s just like the the day-to-day labor of making sure that as I do the work I’m leaving an archive for other scholars who will come behind me and also transcribing the interviews.
So that my informants can have access to you know the written transcript of their own history so staying on top of that has been very difficult to.
Find the funding there’s a lot of funding to support the.
Research not necessarily a lot of funding to support the labor the kind of hidden labor of doing this kind of this kind of work so the most surprising part has been how much of.
A clamor there is in the community I’m not at all surprised that people want to see stories about their communities but I was very surprised that people went from looking at the exhibit reading some of.
The script and saying I want you to tell my father story in this exhibit I want you to tell my uncle story in this exhibit and I’m going to provide you with the materials that.