In the beginning of the documentary, one thing that stuck out to me the most was that the American’s judging the Loatians on their English and how they ‘immigrated’ to Illinois, they kind of look down on them, when in reality, they became refugees, seeking asylum from the instability in their homeland. As the Americans are speaking down on them, they also go into explaining how they have European backgrounds, thus making them from immigrant backgrounds. This attitude is the main issue of how immigration is perceived in America. Many stereotypical views of immigrants not knowing how to speak English, taking their jobs, and even populating their neighborhoods, but then go into the realization that they are too from immigrant ancestry. The hypocrisy that was established just in the beginning of the video really stood out to me, the fact that it directly correlates to how Americans view immigrants in modern day.
Adding onto that, now the results of the Veterans who were involved in the war with Laotia cannot stand having their homes invaded by the refugees. One of the veterans go on saying how they no longer get the benefits they received from serving in the beginning and now going on negatively on how the refugees get better benefits than them. Some even go on about feeling guilty for such hatred that is instilled upon the Laotians because their true homes are destroyed that now caused them to escape to America.
As the documentary goes on, switching between the American perspective to the refugee, you can identify that everything the Americans are saying is so ignorant to the culture of the Laotians. The refugees are just trying to continue their life as if it was never interrupted, praying, going about their day, and then you have the Americans from Illinois completely talking down on how their culture is different just because the Americans do not understand what they are doing or even closed off on the idea of something other than Christianity exists in the world.
By the way the Americans are speaking throughout the documentary you can see how it is not very different to how they view immigrants in modern day. Calling slurs, discouraging their culture, and even disrespecting them behind their backs also represents the racism going on today. Placing these attitudes side by side really shows how racial treatment towards immigration has not changed much.
As the documentary progresses, another point that stood out was the difference between an immigrant and refugee, in terms of why they migrate, how long they have to move and what they do about moving. I personally did not know that immigrants had such patience with planning their move. I assumed it was one day they had an idea and went to start a new life, especially how many leave everything in their homeland to start fresh somewhere else, but there is a lot of preparation that goes into emigrating. As opposed to refugees, it is more so based on their lives are in danger and they must leave this very moment. There is no time for them to plan out a smooth trip. A similarity with immigrants, is that they both most leave everything behind to start their new life, even if they do not know how.
Towards the end of the documentary, it shows how refugees/immigrants tend to intertwine into the American culture by tending to their holidays and even their religion represents how refugees are willing to adapt to their new homeland. While Americans on the other hand are not usually wiling to respect any culture other than their own.
I think it was a really good observation you made the the point of view and context shifted from American to Laotians in Rockford. You mention how ignorant and closed-minded the Americans with the newly moved-in Laotians, but if they were in our city, didn’t speak our language, didn’t really interact or communicate with us, what exactly would bridge you to better connect and learn about them? I agree that I am sure the fence around their temple isn’t a very inviting “learning experience,” but there was no real action plan proposed here or sort of initiative. They simply showed the upstanding cultural barriers, and the prejudice, stereotypes, and demeaning slurs by the Americans like you said. Then, you go on to share the disappointed sentiment the Laotians express, but where would you propose a system of unity? Could you? What was prohibiting the Sheirff’s department to when maybe they had an opportunity to be the first of the locals to interact with the Laotians on a very detail-oriented level? What is just bias; do they still have the opportunity to push it to the side?
I found it absolutely FASCINATING the Laotians were multi-religious, commonly attending both Christian churches in many branchings as well as their own temple because their culture shares no competitive preference. Could the church body influence the larger change to bridge society, or is that just to a seclusive extent?
When you refer to hypocrisy in your intro, are you referring to the local Americans having wayyyy back when, decades ago, of European ancestry, as I think all Americans do? If so, I’m not sure that was relevant to the discussion of the video, but I am really curious to learn more of what you mean! You show a very clear understanding of the contrasting experience of a refugee and immigrant, and I am curious to see if the interactions in Rockford will change if the Laotian’s status is ever changed. What do you think?
Nice summation. What’s the big takeaway? How does this relate to today?