Monday Matter: I'm taking a break, but you're in good hands!
Your weekly Foreign Bodies roundup (public)
Every Monday, we send subscribers and gift recipients of immigrant mental health and storytelling newsletter Foreign Bodies stories we recently inhaled and adored. This is also a chance to do some housekeeping and give shout-outs and all that jazz. Roundups are usually written by Fiza and edited by Farah, but Farah will take over as primary writer through September. Today’s issue is public to mark the announcement.
First things first
A little housekeeping
I’m taking a month-long break—and Farah’s stepping in!
Hey Foreign Bodies! Today’s Monday Matter is public to announce my brief hiatus and Farah’s swift takeover of the weekly newsletter roundup. I’m in the process of moving homes and undergoing surgery and she has kindly offered to step in as primary writer until I’m all recovered. Farah has been an invaluable editor and sounding board for Foreign Bodies since she first began volunteering in November 2019 and I’m confident the weekly newsletter will be in good, kind hands. If you want to get in touch with Farah and send your story, book, resource or song recommendations, you can reach her at email@example.com.
Don’t forget to enter to win The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri!
Enter to win a copy of Iranian American author Dina Nayeri’s The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You, an award-winning debut work of nonfiction that defies stereotypes and raises essential questions about the refugee and immigrant experience. Entries are open to all paying subscribers or gift recipients and will be accepted through Friday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. EST.
Something I wrote…
I published an essay in Romper last week about the very American stigma of moving back in with your parents in your twenties or thirties and beyond.
A musical start to your Mondays 🎧
One song to groove to, cry to, drive to and share
This week’s pick, recommended by subscriber Amy T., is “The Roving Cowboy / Avarguli” by Chinese American composer Wu Fei and American banjo player Abigail Washburn, considered masters of Chinese folk music and Appalachian folk music, respectively. According to this 2020 Northwest Public Broadcasting interview, “both women were born in 1977, and both grew up to be accomplished and virtuosic folk musicians, albeit in completely different folk traditions.”
Resource(s) of the week
Something helpful and interesting and cool (*storytelling opportunity)
Black Health Commission: A Florida-based nonprofit organization from Haitian American immigrant and mental health advocate Rebecca Desir dedicated to educating the public about the root causes of health disparities through programming, collaborations and more.
*Two Truths and a Lie with Bushra Rehman: A free Kundiman workshop on the craft of writing memoir and autobiographical fiction for Asian American writers and students. Classes will be held virtually. Deadline to apply is Sept. 6. (Hat tip to the wonderful Hannah Bae!) More information at kundiman.org.
*Teen Vogue’s Allegra Kirkland is looking for writers to pen sharp, timely op-eds on U.S. politics. Rates start at $250. Email pitches or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal stories I’m loving
Depression is why I’m writing this. Shame is why I’m writing it under a pseudonym (Shin Yh, The Guardian): “A lot of Asian American parents and families, they worked really hard to get to the United States, they worked really hard for their families. And then someone gets depressed. They don’t understand it.” It took me a while to get through this essay, because it felt so close to home. Under a pseudonym, Shin Yh writes poignantly about the cultural shame, stigma and disbelief surrounding mental illness in Asian American families. Read here.
Three Falcons Players Died Off the Field in the Late ’80s. Could Their Old Teammates Help Me With My Own Loss? (Jeremy Collins, Sports Illustrated): “Depression is like living in a house without a roof. Sometimes it's sunny. Sometimes it pours. During the pandemic, my skies have kept changing.” Thirty years after three Atlanta Falcons players died off the field, fan Jeremy Collins, who survived a major depressive episode himself, reached out to those who lost friends and teammates. A must-read on perseverance, loss, and the intersection of excellent sports and mental health writing. Read here.
What Cabbage Teaches Us about Care and Culture (Jessica J. Lee, Catapult): “In adulthood, I’ve grown fond of cabbage, every few weeks buying a flat pale green head from my local Turkish grocer. There, the sign tells me it is a Turkish cabbage, but it is a cabbage I know as Taiwanese… I cannot think of any vegetable more joyous, more versatile, more rich with memory than a cabbage.” Loved this installment of Lee’s Non-Native Species column on plants, people, and their intertwined migration stories. Read here.
I Can’t Forget the Lessons of Vietnam. Neither Should You. (Viet Thanh Nguyen, The New York Times): “Americans like to imagine war stories featuring their heroic soldiers, sailors and pilots. The reality is that refugee stories are also war stories. Yet despite a growing sense of antiwar sentiment in the country, the United States has found it hard to give up its habits of war, partly because of the military-industrial complex built for war, and partly because even antiwar stories featuring the military still center on the seductive glamour of firepower, hardware, heroism and masculinity.” A must-read opinion piece from The Sympathizer author Viet Thanh Nguyen. Read here.
Asian-Americans demand: ‘Call me by my name' (Shehreen Karim and Teresa Xie, AAJA Voices): “Mispronouncing someone’s name is much more than just callously stumbling over letters. Our names not only represent our identity — they carry our history.” Born from the Asian American Journalists Association, the Call Me By My Name podcast addresses the mispronunciation of Asian American names through the experiences of three different people, two of whom initially altered their names to appear “more English” and eventually reclaimed them later on. Read and listen here.
In the news
Relevant news coverage that doesn’t really fall under our larger mission to de-stigmatize through personal storytelling, but is still essential reading for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on immigrant and refugee mental health as well as general mental health news.
Community Mental Health Programs See Results for Minnesota Immigrants (Bonnie Harris, The Uptake): A feature on the efficiency of community-based mental health services dedicated to stigma reduction, acculturation, and structural barrier-breaking. One such program, Minnesota’s Vail Place, works within emergency departments and other institutions with health care providers to provide a bridge back into their communities. This model is especially helpful when a community member is in crisis. Read more here.
Pandemic Unveils Growing Suicide Crisis for Communities of Color (Aneri Pattani, Kaiser Health News): Among teenagers and young adults, suicide deaths have increased more than 45% for Black Americans and about 40% for Asian Americans in the seven years ending in 2019. An important analysis dissecting where the rates stem from by fellow Carter Fellow Aneri Pattani. Read here.
Students Face Worsening Mental Health, But How Will Schools Handle It? (Fortesa Latifi, Teen Vogue): “There hasn’t been time to collectively grieve all the experiences and all the people we’ve lost.” For this important story, reporter Fortesa Latifi spoke with students about how the pandemic has impacted their mental health—and how schools can help. Read here.
Living in Afghan war zone, fleeing the country takes toll on mental health (Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News): “‘Everyone [in Afghanistan] is exposed to chronic fear and chronic vulnerability and deprivation,’ said Kenneth Miller, psychologist and researcher at the advocacy organization War Child Holland. ‘It keeps people in a state of high alert perpetually. That wears down our bodies, our minds, and it leaves us vulnerable to getting sick and developing anxiety disorders and depression.’” According to research in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems, one in three asylum seekers or refugees experience high rates of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Read here.
New research 📑
Sleep Duration Buffers The Effects of Adversity on Mental Health Among Recently Immigrated Latinx Adolescents (Amanda Venta and Candice Alfano, Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma): For this new study, researchers examined sleep duration as a moderator of the link between childhood adversity and emotional and behavioral symptoms among Latinx migrant youth. Findings suggest sleep duration has important public health potential as a means of buffering the effects of adversity on mental health in vulnerable groups. (Not much of a surprise, but good to see sleep research centering migrant groups). Read and download here.
A few unrelated stories on my mind
But the Greatest of These is Love (Mary Heglar, Medium): This essay isn’t new, and I think I’ve recommended it already in previous roundups. But it is once again on my mind. Climate justice writer Mary Heglar, who had to evacuate her home in New Orleans over the weekend ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall, writes about love as her driving force in the fight for climate justice. “I don’t mean any simple, sappy kind of love,” she writes. “I don’t mean anything cute or tame. I mean living, breathing, heart-beating love. Wild love. This love is not a noun, she is an action verb. She can shoot stars into the sky. She can spark a movement. She can sustain a revolution.” Read here.
A vacation town promises rest and relaxation. The water knows the truth. (Nneka M. Okona, Vox): “Not knowing is a violence. The absence of knowing robs you of the chance to mourn, to grieve. We lose our humanity, the space to be bereft, the chance to avenge and honor our ancestors, to fight for their legacy to live among everyday consciousness.” A beautiful, haunting feature on Georgia’s Igbo Landing, a leisurely vacation spot with a grim history of slavery. Read here.
Her Name Is Not Honey Boo Boo (Rainesford Stauffer, Teen Vogue): Ahead of her 16th birthday, reporter Rainesford Stauffer spoke with former child beauty queen Alana Thompson about her mom’s drug use, her dreams of becoming a neonatal nurse, about body shaming and more. It is just an all-around wonderful profile of a child public figure who grew up in front of the camera. Read here.
Books and collections I’m currently reading (plus reader-recommended works!)
Currently reading: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore, a novel based on true events surrounding Donaldina Cameron and other women who helped Chinese American women escape discrimination and slavery in late 19th century California.
Reader rec from Gayathri S.: Midnight’s Borders by Suchitra Vijayan, the first true people’s history of modern India, told through a seven-year, 9,000-mile journey along its many contested borders (Penguin Random House)
Remember, we always have tons of wonderful stories and resources available at foreignbodies.net.
Love to see it
Shout-outs, thank-yous and more
Sharing this callout from Dr. Hosna Sheikholeslami, who is looking for examples of writing centering the Muslim American experience.
Another callout, this time from reporter Orion Rummler of 19th News, who would like to speak to AAPIs in response to rising and continued hate incidents.
One more! The inimitable Ilya Kaminsky would love to support d/Deaf or disabled poets in Atlanta this December with their chapbook or book manuscript.
Felt this in my bones. Everything—everything—feels so overwhelming.
That’s it for now.
Did you absolutely hate this? Open to criticism and suggestions. See ya later!
Special thanks to our Foreign Bodies Sustaining Members Kris B., Hannah B., Safurah B., Alex C., Alma C., Rebecca C., Rodrigo C., Esmé D., Katie H., Katya S., Jack L., Liz S., Puja S., Roz T., Diane W., Samantha W., Alan Y. and my mama. If you’re a sustaining member but not listed here, just shoot me an email!