Josna Rege

An Immigrant’s Alphabet, July 3rd, 2016

In Notes on July 3, 2016 at 12:26 pm
REUTERS/Neil Hall (from

REUTERS/Neil Hall (from

It’s the eve of July 4th, Independence Day in the United States, and around the world nationalism is rampant. In the U.S., presidential candidates give license to hate groups by calling for the construction of a wall at the southern border and a ban on immigration for certain groups of people. In Britain and throughout Europe, racism and xenophobia are threatening to become mainstream; the nativist “Brexit” vote on June 23rd, 2016 was a sign of the times. Meanwhile in India, not being a militant Hindu is fast becoming enough to make your national allegiance suspect.


There is nothing inherently wrong with patriotism, but nationalism is a dangerously double-edged sword, and jingoism is nothing but trouble. The anniversary of national Independence calls us to reflect upon these times, and how we may be personally, unthinkingly, contributing to the ugliness around us. Here are 27 TMA stories on my own journey as an immigrant and a child of immigrants, my multiple and shifting identities and allegiances, thoughts on borders and border crossings, reactions to racism, and reflections on nations, nationalism, and war. Why 27? Let’s see: how about one for each letter of the English alphabet and one for luck—we need it!

I leave you with two songs—both from the same album by The Grateful Dead— that together pretty much sum up my feelings on nations and nationalism. U.S. Blues is an ironic comment on flag-waving nationalism and Ship of Fools—well, that speaks for itself. George Orwell once said that Britain was like a family (and a dysfunctional one at that) “with the wrong members in control”; sadly, the same can be said for most of the nation-states in this uneven world.

Are You Black or White?

Balancing My Three Halves

Censorship at Bedtime

Common Sense

Cookbooks, Immigrants, and Improvisation


European Border Crossings

The Highlanders

The Hundred-Foot Journey After Charlie Hebdo

An Immigrant’s Reflections on Independence Day

It’s Only Temporary

Jai Jagat

Land Where Our Fathers Died

Lessons from a Historian

The Nation

No, It’s Not Political Correctness

On Not Knowing the Signs



Racist Bracist

The Silver Hairpin





What’s Wrong with “Oriental”?


The Yogi of Beals Street

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents


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