Introduction by series curator, Dr. Mara Ostfeld, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan

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Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

When Donald J. Trump launched his presidential campaign on June 16, 2015, there was only one issue on his website: immigration. His position on immigration was notably conservative and exclusionary, with “Build That Wall” becoming a standard chant in his rallies. In many ways, this notion of a border wall that he embraced and promoted so passionately symbolizes his approach to American politics more broadly. …


By Dr. Dina Okamoto, Helge-Johannes Marahrens, and Emily Meanwell

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Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels

Over the past four years, we have seen continued attacks on the foreign-born populations in the U.S., as anti-immigrant sentiment and federal directives have become a cornerstone of the Trump campaign and administration. As we near the historic 2020 presidential election, scholars and pundits alike will be watching to see how immigrants vote.

Yet voting is only one way that citizens can engage in the political process and make their voices heard. Political participation includes a variety of activities and actions beyond the ballot box. In particular, engaging in public collective efforts in the form of protests, marches, and sit-ins are significant ways for immigrants to participate politically, especially if they lack the power to address grievances through other means. Because not all immigrants are U.S. …


By Dr. Sy Stokes

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Photo by Life Matters from Pexels

“I think that one thing that keeps me going is knowing that there is the possibility for us to create our own ‘us,’ as in people who want to kind of dismantle the current institutions in place. There’s the possibility for us to organize our own institutions that service our own people with our best interest — intentions at heart…seeing the potential and the drive, and people who are so deeply invested in this struggle keeps me motivated.” — Esme, 4th year Chicanx students

Esme participated in a focus group I conducted about the campus racial climate during the Trump presidency. Several students expressed how they have been targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and executive decision-making, which served as motivation to engage with sociopolitical issues. While researchers may categorize her response as something resembling “political efficacy,” Esme alluded to something far more complex. Within her response exists a vision that transcends the realm of politics, and a motivation that is derived from a collective “us.” I would argue that labeling her statement as an example of political efficacy deviates from her vision, as the true catalyst of her ambitious imagination lies in her racial identity. …


by Dr. Susana M. Muñoz and Juan Escalante

Immigrant make America great poster
Immigrant make America great poster
Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

Undocumented immigrant activism has been a constant factor in fighting and advocating for humane immigration rights in the U.S. over the past several decades.

Almost immediately after President Ronald Raegan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, our nation has witnessed a slow yet growing number of deportations of countless immigrant families and the perpetual harm that immigration enforcement has had on communities across the country.

On the other hand, immigrants and their allies have led much of the expansion in pro-migrant legislation at the state and local level, which has led to access to in-state tuition and driver’s licenses to undocumented community members in some states. Those of us within the immigrant rights movement credit the Obama Administration for exercising prosecutorial discretion to breathe life into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently shields 700,000 immigrants from deportation. …


By Dr. Barbara Gomez-Aguinaga

Multicolor mural “v o t e”
Multicolor mural “v o t e”
Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

There are currently more than 23 million immigrants in the United States who are eligible to vote, and most of them are Latinos. With higher turnout rates than their US-born Latino counterparts, Latino immigrants who are eligible to vote are an energized and important, yet often overlooked, group who are ready to cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential election. This essay tackles multiple issues related to the Latino immigrant vote, including the group’s enthusiasm and propensity to vote, their participation rates in past elections, and the lack of political outreach from campaigns and organizations.

The Unheard Enthusiasm of Naturalized Latinos

The vast majority of Latino immigrants who are eligible to vote have reported that they plan to participate in the November 2020 elections, according to a weekly tracking poll from NALEO Educational Fund. As Figure 1 shows, almost 3 in every 4 Latino eligible voters who are immigrants said they are almost certain they will vote in the upcoming elections. Only 10% of Latino immigrant eligible voters reported a low propensity to vote in 2020. …


By Dr. Elizabeth Rule

Native family wearing surgical masks
Native family wearing surgical masks
Photo by Grandriver on Getty Images

Many members of the public erroneously believe that Native Americans exist only in historical memory. In truth, for those living away from significant tribal populations, it is relatively easy to understand why this myth persists. Indian iconography on everything from motorcycles to butter, mega sports mascots like the Washington Team and Cleveland Indians, and even the American holiday calendar (I’m looking at you, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving!) perpetuate a romantic idea of who we are as a nation and relegate the original inhabitants of this land to the safety of the past. …


Introduction by series curators Shanna Katz Kattari and Stephanie L. Kerschbaum

Person wearing a white mask and giving a thumbs up
Person wearing a white mask and giving a thumbs up
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Over the past few decades, disability rights and disability justice movements have helped support disabled and chronically ill individuals claim disability as an identity and set of lived experiences, not simply a diagnosis. In turn, more and more people are claiming this identity, connecting in communal spaces of all kinds, and working towards dismantling ableist concepts. However, there are still incredible challenges surrounding disabled identity for faculty members in the academy, despite the benefits of having disabled faculty on campus. For example, many of us have been told to downplay or even not disclose our identities and experiences when feasible in order to get a job or tenure, have experienced high rates of ableist microaggressions (as well as explicit ableism), and have dealt with extreme tokenization while simultaneously fighting for basic accommodations to be made for our bodyminds. …


By Susan Mahipaul and Erika Katzman

Neon sign on a side of a building, “time is precious”
Neon sign on a side of a building, “time is precious”

Resisting Ableism and Redefining Work: A Conversation Between Allies

We are two critical disability scholars who came together to talk about ableism through our embodied experiences in academia. Despite having remarkably similar qualifications, one of us secured a tenure track faculty position and the other remains precariously employed as a sessional lecturer (part-time instructor). One of us is visibly disabled and the other is not. Both of us are impacted by expectations of (hyper)productivity in our academic workspaces: our workloads are assigned by task without clear indication of the time we are expected to contribute; lunch hour meetings are the norm; we always seem to be squeezing in another task, extending workdays well beyond a conventional 9–5; and the boundary between weekday and weekend easily erodes as deadlines appear on any day of the week. …


By Katta Spiel

Small children sitting on a classroom floor as a teacher reads a book
Small children sitting on a classroom floor as a teacher reads a book
photo by CDC on Unsplash

In 2016, I attended a major conference in my field for the first time. I was early in my PhD studies and while I was involved in founding a group advocating for self-representation of chronically ill and disabled academics, I was somewhat shy to disclose my own discussions with my immediate colleagues within the field. The conference held a so-called ‘Diversity and Inclusion Lunch’. I was trying to figure out how the field worked and who was important and how to do conferencing at all to pay much attention to the speakers, until Jennifer Rode was called to the podium and started talking about her personal struggles on the academic job market as a disabled academic. Poignantly, she delineated how well-meaning reference letters and unwanted disclosure had effects on her landing a placement in an already cut-throat competitive environment. …


By Neil Simpkins and Brenna Swift

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photo by the authors, Neil Simpkins and Brenna Swift

Higher education is organized around the idea that some people are fit to learn and others aren’t. Disability studies scholar Jay Dolmage describes how a vision of the ideal learner guides all choices that are made at universities, from the design of campus buildings to the ways that students are graded. The imagined elite learner is white, heterosexual, male, and nondisabled. Disability studies writer Margaret Price also adds that this mythical “normal” student or faculty member is also specifically free of mental illness. Students and faculty with mental illness are often seen as lazy, disruptive, a legal liability, a risk to eliminate from campus, and unable to succeed. Graduate students and faculty members with mental illness may encounter questions about whether they have chosen a realistic path. Some university instructors and employees with mental illness choose to go without accommodations in order to avoid disclosing their conditions; others are denied accommodations or fired. By perpetuating these exclusionary perspectives and practices, we risk not benefiting from the unique insights of people with mental illness. …

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