Read It: Asian Immigrants, The Recession, And The Lost Souls

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I'm sitting right now listening to Meg & Dia's cut Fighting for Nothing off their latest album and somehow it just seems appropriate as I'm also thinking about the poignant post Asian Immigrants In The Recession: The Lost Souls and the questions it asks, the answers it seems to be searching for.

Being that many of the Southeast Asian immigrants from the former IndoChina region were mostly unskilled and undereducated, they took any job thrown their way to raise their families. My dad went to school and got his CNC Machinist certificate and started working immediately for $4.50 an hour. After getting laid off in one job, he found another one eleven years ago and worked there since this past spring. My mom took up a job at a Thai restaurant washing dishes. She eventually landed a job weaving Oriental rugs, even repairing Oprah's several years back. She was considered a master in her craft. She lost her job a couple years ago due to the decreasing demand for luxuries and commodities.

They both stayed in their fields for over twenty years. Now, they are both unemployed.
TMM asks the question - using his own family as an example of how close the recession hits home - of what happens to Asian immigrants, in an economy that doesn't already care, who lose their jobs, who have limited English skills, and who in the end, will lose their jobs to a younger workforce.

As I read the post I couldn't necessarily answer. I know they're organizations out there - networks that help recent Asian American immigrants get their feet on the ground, work with them on citizenship, housing - but I couldn't think of anyone specifically who's addressing the problem of an aging Asian American workforce - in a sense the re-education of this workforce.

I don't know what the answer is: Is it family that should be taking care of them? What happens if there's no family left? What happens if no one else is in the position to support them?

But there's more to it than just basic needs.

How do you take a workforce, specific to an immigrant community and the Asian American community, and in a sense, give dignity back to a workforce that by all means has many years left - that wants to contribute - but isn't always wanted?