Write for A Life with Subtitles

Would you like to write a guest post for A Life with Subtitles? I would love to hear your stories! This blog focuses on the personal experiences of living in a multicultural world: the humor, the touching moments, the lessons that we learn.

Topical focus should relate to one of the following: cross-cultural marriage, raising multicultural kids, race and culture, travel, multicultural identity, or immigration. Want some ideas? Maybe something you've learned in cross-cultural marriage or a funny moment abroad. You could share tips or tricks for teaching kids a second+ language. Or write an essay about understanding your racial identity. Since many readers here are immigrants, are married to immigrants, or are otherwise familiar with the Department of Homeland Security, we love a good immigration story, too!

Got a story to tell? Check out the writing guidelines below:

  • ** Pieces should be between 400-700 words and include a title suggestion.
  • ** Include a 2-3 sentence bio with links to any social platforms you want to highlight.
  • ** Upload a square bio pic.
  • ** If you have them, send along 1-3 pictures I could use with the post.
Please submit your post using the form below. I look forward to reading your story!

A Few of My Favorite Things {September 2015}

I've still been openly referring to the season as "summer" this September, afraid to let go of summer and scared to watch winter creep in. But I did bust out my leggings and drink two Pumpkin Spice Lattes this past week, so I think it's safe to say fall is already here.

And autumn in Atlanta is truly one of the best seasons. The month started out with my first visit to the popular outdoor amphitheater that's practically in my backyard. We've heard a lot of famous artists in muffled form from our back porch.

But my friend Katie and I got to see Pentatonix and Kelly Clarkson live and un-muffled. It was rainy, which means I also got to wear a poncho. So much fun! Here are a few other favorites this month:

Favorite Cultural Experience

This month I took Billy and Gabriella to Dollywood. Can we just say dream come true? Growing up, my family was like multi-year Gold Member season pass holders. I mean, we even got free parking, people!

The park has changed quite a bit in the last decade or so with the addition of many new "thrill rides." Lucky for me, that meant there was absolutely no line at my beloved "Blazing Fury," a very low-key roller coaster with lots of mannequins moving on automated tracks and recording dialogue playing in the background. (I know it all by heart... still.)

But even with the changes, there was still plenty of glass blowing, candle making, and bluegrass music. Billy was astounded by the East Tennessee-ness of it all. And it just felt really fun to share that experience with my two lovelies. (Isaac got some one-on-one time with the great grandparents, which was a huge gift to us.)

Favorite TV

Season premiers kicked off this month, which is pretty exciting for a TV watcher like myself. The Mindy Project is hanging out on Hulu, and Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish returned to network. I was really impressed with the Black-ish premier.

I also enjoyed some of my favorite dramas, like Nashville, How To Get Away with Murder, and Grey's. Although truth be told, I can't even decide if I like Grey's Anatomy anymore. But How To Get Away with Murder was awesome, as was Viola Davis's Emmy acceptance speech. Now, I'm just holding out for Jane the Virgin on October 12!

Favorite Unmet Goal

Well, I started the month with some hefty health ambitions. I'd been slowly gaining weight, despite a pretty regular workout routine. When our life insurance company did some blood work, I basically interpreted the results as "You've got six months." To give you an idea of my accuracy, Billy's casual response was, "Should I start playing the violins?"

Anyway, I decided it was time for two-a-days. I purchased Tone It Up, which has a lot of good at-home weight lifting routines and walked you through one month of double workouts. For approximately 10 days, I did pretty good. But then life got in the way, as tends to happen. The good news is I saw some results and I created a couple new habits. So we'll build from there!

Favorite Instagram

Gabriella started dance this month. It's safe to say she's all about it.

A photo posted by Sarah Quezada (@sarahquezada) on

Favorite Books

September was all about humor reading. I mentioned last month that I'd started For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. It was such a fun and refreshing read. I can get burned out on super-serious spiritual books, so it was great to read a joyous collection of essays. Topics ranged from parenting to friendships to church to yoga pants, so there's likely something for everyone.

I also devoured Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? Her second memoir was full of all the humor and dramatic storytelling we love from Mindy. I appreciated her essay on confidence and also how she pulls back the curtain on her life writing and acting in Hollywood.

And she tells a story about flying in an airplane that had me literally laughing out loud as I sat on a bench in the gym hallway. (Isn't that why one goes to the gym? To put their kids in childcare and read and giggle to themselves in the hallway?)

Favorite Date

Okay, it's not a humor book, but I also listened to the second Maze Runner book, The Scorch Trials, on Audible. (Click here to get two free audio books with your trial.) It was so good.

Billy took me to see the movie. If you've read the book, the movie is a pretty significant departure. I read an interview (spoilers!) after I came home to understand more why because I really liked the book. But the movie was still really good. My only complaint was the loud teenagers in the theater, chatting and laughing and flirting. I felt very old.

All the Links

Here's a few favorite links I shared this month:
(For all the links all the month, I'm on Twitter or Facebook.)

The Sanitized Stories We Tell - This piece by Sarah Bessey gives us the freedom to grieve even when our tragedies may feel small in comparison to others'. I have been thinking about it ever since I read it.

Jimmy Fallon's Fave #OneTimeInClass Tweets Are Your Best School Fails - Oh my goodness. So funny. The first one just slayed me.

Mexican Broadcaster Uses Trump's Words To Blast U.S. In Soccer Match - When a situation makes you want to cry, sometimes getting creative is the best way to laugh. This is genius!

This Book Truck Is Making Sure Young, Bicultural Latinos Stay Bilingual - I love books. I love my two bicultural Latinos. This just seems like a terrific idea!

And here are some posts on A Life with Subtitles that readers enjoyed:

Immigration in the News - The second part of my interview with immigration advocate Matt Soerens.

5 Spanish Cartoons on Netflix - If you want to increase your kids' exposure to Spanish, Netflix can be a great resource. But they can be a bit tricky to find.

On Mothers-in-Law & Offensive Hand Gestures [VIDEO] - Billy could hardly stand this one, so I had to be offensive for both of us.

Shout out to Leigh Kramer for her hosting this link-up monthly. What did you love in September?

Who Can Use Which Offensive Word? Black-ish Asks the Question

Black-ish season 2 premier asks the question: "Who can use the n-word?"

When I was a summer daycamp counselor, I overheard two white boys and their black classmate discussing skin color as one of the white boys informed the other what to call their third, black friend. Though they mispronounced it, I suddenly realized - horrified - that they were discussing "the n-word."

The trio of boys huddled together, none realizing the history or controversy surrounding the language in their mouths. I rushed into action, while being totally unsure of what to do, except to say, "We don't say that word."

But who doesn't say that word exactly? "We" as in white people? Or "we" as in all people? Or "we" as in "children at a summer daycamp"? 

These are exactly the kinds of questions black-ish tackled in the Season 2 premier this week. Son Jack says the n-word during a school talent show as he's rapping a Kanye song. The school's zero tolerance policy means swift punishment.

I heard a radio interview with Anthony Anderson, who plays the family father Dre, before the premier aired. He shared how the show attempts to address cultural topics from a humorous perspective. That aim is especially attractive to me, yet I still wasn't sure what to expect.

I was impressed with the care and humor used to discuss this topic on the show. I wish a similar approach was used more often to address society's controversial conversations, especially around race and culture. To that end, here are three takeaways from the Black-ish Season 2 premier for gracious conversations about race.

History is inescapable.

U.S. culture doesn't always like to acknowledge history. Partly because (especially as it relates to racial and ethnic groups) there are shameful acts we don't wish to remember. But also because our culture values individualism and the "self-made man" to the point that we have sometimes pushed history and context into the background.

But history has an influence on our words and the ways we interact with different groups in society. Black-ish addressed historical differences in their traditional format of broaching the topic with all three generations living in the home. 

Dre's father weighed in with use examples Dre labels as "self-hate." Dre asserts his generation reclaimed the word and that black people (and black people alone) should be able to use it. He soon learns, however, that his kids' friends use the word frequently regardless of race.

The n-word is not the only example where history impacts our language. Part of the debate around words like "Hispanic" (or the more derogatory "spic") stems from the history of Spanish oppression in Central and South American countries. History has also influenced conversation regarding "Native American" and "American Indians." The reality is that a complicated present is affected by a messy past, and our history is inescapable.

There is no one right answer.

Because I am a white person who has spent a lot of time in minority contexts, I am sometimes asked to de-code and explain language for other white people. In some cases, these conversations are really good and important. 

But other times, I feel inadequate. Because the reality is that some questions - especially those about language - don't have one simple, right answer. 

So often, majority culture wants these words clarified and simplified, and people express frustration about any ambiguity around words. What's the big deal? you might hear someone say. 

But there are unique perspectives even within specific cultural groups that speak to the words society uses. On Black-ish, Dre's wife Bow is adamant that no one should ever use the n-word due to its negativity and history. 

Dre, on the other hand, suggests the push to ban the word is because it makes white people feel uncomfortable. He even suggests that white people do not like the idea of a word existing that others can say, but they cannot. 

Layers of power, privilege, and control are the subtext in his words, and I was surprised but impressed that Black-ish went there. Outside of even this specific topic, I think it's good to ask questions about issues of power that may be influencing society's leanings.  

There is nuance as society evolves.

There is a pull to want race to be a conversation of the past. Slavery is illegal. The Civil Rights Movement happened. Let's just be done with this already. In fact, there are always people trolling around Facebook saying racism (and often race issues) no longer exist, except in the hearts of a few, individual, out-of-touch loonies.

The reality is that Jim Crow and Civil Rights are more recent than we care to admit. And currently, our society is still grappling with topics of diversity, including immigration, mass incarceration, and more. 

Hands down, the most powerful scene of Black-ish for me was Dre defending his son to the school leaders. What stood out was the call for nuance and grace. After one leader suggests no one be allowed to use the word, Dre responds, "Your people got it off A LOT... Don't you think we deserve a run at it for a while until we figure it out?" 

Later, he adds, "This whole country has been schizophrenic about what to call black people for two centuries. And the last person who should be held accountable for it is an 8-year-old boy who doesn't have an ounce of hate in his heart." (You can watch the full scene here.)

Sometimes I wish conversations about race were a thing of the past. But I don't spend too much time thinking about it because it's simply not reality. I hope we can approach more topics with grace, humor, and nuance in ways that affirm unique perspectives and move us towards deeper understanding and respect. I think Black-ish did an admirable job for a 20 minute sitcom. It got me thinking and conversat-ing, and we need new, fresh (and in my opinion, funny) ways to talk about these real topics. 

5 Spanish Cartoons on Netflix

Promoting bilingualism in our home is a circular process. We are enthusiastic and incorporating Spanish for a while, then we slip back into English-only habits. Whoops!

But there are times when we see our kids showing more interest in their second language. Whether its an upcoming visit to see abuelos in Guatemala or an afternoon after Spanish-language church, we are excited to see them start to practice more.

And we want to encourage and expand these opportunities. Netflix is one of our easiest ways to increase their exposure to the minority language. But it's not super easy to find Spanish language cartoons on Netflix because you cannot search exclusively for Spanish cartoons.

You must choose the cartoon first and then switch the language settings. Periodically, I compile lists of shows that have Spanish audio available. More details on how to switch over are at the end of this post. Here are 5 Spanish cartoons you can watch on Netflix: 

#1 - Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales

We've watched this one a bunch. In fact, I don't think my kids know you can watch it in English, which is key. But these are fun short story vignettes with the characters from Cars.

#2 - Clifford the Big Red Dog

Set this classic cartoon to Spanish and enjoy! Related: It didn't take long for my daughter to figure out that the similar show "Clifford's Puppy Days" is not available in Spanish. I guess "I'll just have to watch in English" she announced with the disappointment of a child eating cotton candy.

#3 - VeggieTales In the House

The VeggieTales movies are not offered in Spanish on Netflix. However, there is one season of a Netflix original cartoon with all our favorite talking vegetables talking in Spanish.  

#4 - The Hive

It's a cartoon about bees and all their bee-life hijinx. This one is especially good for younger kids when you're looking for another option. 

#5 - Puffin Rock

Another Netflix original, Puffin Rock has been a favorite of my daughter recently. I just discovered it's available not only in Spanish, but French and German as well.

How to Watch Spanish Cartoons on Netflix

It's a bit tricky to switch your shows to Spanish if you've never done it before. One reason is that it's a different process on each device (Roku, FireStick, AppleTV, online, etc).

The key, however, is to first choose the cartoon or movie you want to watch. You cannot switch the audio settings on your device or personal profile (to my knowledge anyway). Instead, you select your program first.

Next, within each episode, find the menu "Audio & Subtitles." On our Roku, it's listed in the menu once you select the show. Online, though, I have to actually start the program first and then select the speech bubble that pops-up on the screen.

Once you find that audio selection menu, though, it's easy to change up your language. Happy bilingual TV watching!

The Great Earlobe Debate: Cross-Cultural Parenting

Cross-cultural parenting raises many different questions. The Great Earlobe Debate is our parenting discussion on infant ear piercing.

When did you get your ears pierced (if they are)?

For me, it was middle school. I skipped to the Wal-Mart with wild enthusiasm and a healthy dose of fear. After all, I'd heard the piercing would be performed with an "ear gun."

I imagined this mechanism as a hefty scope that the under trained woman at the jewelry counter would point at me from a good distance away and... well, shoot. I'd try not to move and we'd all cross our fingers that she had good aim.

Imagine my relief to discover it was more like an "ear stapler" than a rocket launcher. The odds of good aim tripled. (Although the crunching sound was altogether horrifying.)

But I got my ears pierced and promptly turned and cleaned them each night. This routine prevented them from getting infected in no way, but I survived.

A couple years later, I got my second holes. And my senior year of high school I got my cartilage pierced because all the cool kids were doing it. I was wearing this shirt, so I was obviously cool.

Then we had a baby.

We didn't know our firstborn's gender before she arrived on the scene. I was shocked since all the strangers in the grocery store had adamantly predicted I was carrying a boy.

I was also taken aback when my Guatemalan husband asked if we were going to pierce her ears. Oh yeah, I think I had heard that is a pretty common practice among Latino families.

The conversation came up several times during Gabriella's first year of life. Were we going to pierce her ears? I felt "meh" about it.

If it was really important to my husband, that was fine with me. On the other hand, I held on to sweet "coming of age" memories of my own ear piercing experience that I hoped to one day maybe share with my daughter.

The reality was that I spent a lot of that first year spinning in circles, waving my arms, and yelling, "What have I gotten myself into?" When the rubber met the road (or the stapler met the ear in this case), I just couldn't handle one more thing. The idea of swabbing her little ear felt like it would be the straw that broke me.

Bicultural parenting is give and take.

She's now four and yet to be pierced. I think that's worked okay for us, though I know Billy sometimes finds it strange. The reality of bicultural parenting is that we are always gleaning from both cultures to find the combination that fits for our family.

Our hope, like all parents, is to make decisions that benefit our kids. And as we co-parent with sometimes unique cultural expectations, we try to work with each other to weigh which practices from our backgrounds are most important for each of us.

We take very seriously cultural practices that we believe will help our kids connect in their cultures and strengthen their identities. Things like language and kissing and foods. And we know there are always some aspects of both cultures that will be left behind. In this moment, infant ear piercing.

What aspects of your culture are important for you to pass down? What do you think about piercing baby ears? 
Image credit: Avolore

On Mother-In-Laws & Offensive Hand Gestures [VIDEO]

Hand gestures are kind of like the go-to for Intercultural Communication 101. Budding business tycoons are briefed on hand symbols that are offensive in other cultures to prevent international embarrassment.

This training is not, however, offered to mothers of cross-cultural couples. Which is how our situation came about.

I convinced Billy to make a video about this experience because hand gestures are hard to describe in writing. But he can hardly talk about it, more less demonstrate.

So I'm doing all the gesturing in this video, but I apologize in advance to my amigos chapines. I mean no offense.

(If you are viewing this video via RSS or email, you may need to click here to watch.)

In case you're worried, I did get my mom's permission to make this video. No mother-in-laws were offended in the making of this recording.

Could this happen in your family? Has something similar ever happened? What would your mother-in-law say?  

Sleeping Naked and Multicultural Marriage

David Park and I met when I went to Washington to lobby for immigration reform. He's super funny, which is pretty much my #1 quality in new friends. Also, I discovered he and Billy were already BFFs, which was awesome. In fact, the three of us are doing a workshop at this year's CCDA Conference on the topic of multicultural marriage. Are you coming? Let's connect! In the meantime, enjoy this guest post from David which dives into how multicultural marriages helps us understand God and, of course, sleeping naked. 

Being married to someone from a different culture is an experience that simultaneously can make you feel wonderful and vulnerable all over. It’s like sleeping naked. (For the record, I don’t sleep naked because I have young kids and I have taken this one issue off the table for their future therapy. Plus, after a certain age, it’s just gross.)

What I remember from my days of sleeping in the nude is that it feels extremely liberating in the moment, but there is an underlying anxiety about anything outside that moment. For instance, what if the doorbell rings? what if there is a fire? what if the kids outside throw a ball through my window? how close does the landscaper actually get to my window?

In other words, while you’re in bed, it’s fine. It’s the moments you are out of bed that require a great deal of panic/thinking. Such is the intercultural marriage.

My problem is that when I get out of bed, I’m a pastor (what a weird way to introduce my occupation - smh). In any case, going to church and cultivating a spiritual life with someone of a different culture is a line of panic/thinking that doesn’t get much attention, especially by clergy.

Honestly, once we verify that people from two different cultures may get in bed together, by the grace of God (and John Piper — thanks John!), evangelical Christians seem to have no further questions. But getting in bed is not the problem, it’s everything outside of that.

Here’s the thing, to be married to a culturally/racially/ethnically different “other” is adding a whole new dimension to the traditional male/female divide. It’s adding the “Jew and Gentile” to your “male and female”. And if you’re coming from different social strata, then you may have the whole “slave and free” thing going on as well (this is all a poorly text-proofed reference to Galatians by the way).

And this is why multicultural marriage arguments are intrinsically so complex. When I come to a disagreement with my wife, whose family hails from India, I don’t know if I’m dealing with a preference of hers, her family’s, or worst case scenario, a billion other people’s. And if I get meta about it, maybe I or my family or the Republic of Korea is the one with the problem.

On top of that we both grew up here in U.S. of A. In the South no less. Trying to diagnose the root of our marital strife could be a horrible reality show on the Travel Network with Anthony Bourdain and Dr. Phil.

But in terms of faith, adding the degrees of separation of ethnicity and culture, I at least have some tangible way of understanding how “other” my significant other is. The longer our marriage goes, it requires less room for presumption. How could I know? How could she understand?

We are constantly learning to communicate, to try and uncover and make sense of the riddles we are to ourselves, and the other person. This helps me understand the theology of incarnation and the presence of God because the greater the relational distance, the greater the need for communication.

I say communication because I don’t always mean talking. Too much talking is a characteristic of fools and toddlers. And I am one and have the other. But listening is also communication, at least half of it, right?

Asians are typically thought of as poor communicators — too quiet, too deferential, too indirect. I used to think that too, but now I think serving and waiting and breathing the same air can be good forms of communication, if you recognize them.

A persistent presence communicates something even without words or understanding. It requires a great deal of patience too. God also speaks in these ways. These methods of communication in a multiethnic marriage help me understand God’s ways of speaking and listening.

I don’t mean to make my multicultural marriage sound more spiritual, that would be hyperbole. It’s as much of a happy accident to be a long distance runner who happens to live in Denver — mile high city— or to have a running litany of hypothetical scenarios stemming from the anxious predicament of sleeping naked, that I am married to someone whose cultural and ethnic distance from me forces those questions that give me glimpses of God that a monochromatic marriage may not.

Again, not that I’m a long distance runner or sleep naked, just a pastor trying to make sense of a marriage richer or more diverse than I imagined or deserve.

The Inside Scoop on Using Groupon to Travel

Get terrific travel deals using Groupon to travel. Here's 5 tips and tricks to get the most out of your Groupon Getaway.

A year ago, my husband Billy and I decided to take our first-ever one week vacation. (No work. No kiddos.) We were about to celebrate the first birthday of our second baby. And we were tired.

So I found myself saying something I never thought I'd say: "I want to go to a resort." Exhausted and depleted, I wanted one of those all-inclusive deals where you pay upfront, your decisions are limited to on-site restaurants, and you walk outside each morning to the beach. Sounds good, right?

tips for Groupon travel

It also sounded a bit pricey. So we started browsing Groupon Getaways

But I was nervous. I mean, it's one thing to buy a Groupon for a pottery class or to try out a new salon. But it's quite another to fork over serious cash for the promise of a plane ticket and resort stay in another country. 

I had a lot of questions about how it all works out. So today I'm sharing a few things we learned along the way.

#1 - Remember that you're buying a Groupon.

Because of the way I was reading the getaways (and because I was so excited), I felt like I was booking my trip when I bought it. No. I was essentially buying a gift certificate to a travel agency. So it's important to follow-up your purchase with a call to the agency to actually book your trip.

#2 - Pay attention to dates. 

Each Groupon spells out the dates of the trip that are available (and if you're getting flights, from which airports). When we were browsing vacations, I pretty much constructed a spreadsheet of all the location, dates, and cost options.

One thing I learned the hard way, though, is that you may want to call the travel company directly (contact info usually in the Groupon details) to make sure your dates are still available before you buy.

#3 - Dates full? You can return.

Once we purchased our Groupon, we learned that the vacation option we wanted out of the several it listed was already booked full. The agency tried to offer us other choices, but ultimately, we decided to refund our Groupon and purchase another one instead. 

I can say from experience, that if you run into a similar situation and the trip you desired is no longer available, the return process is pretty straightforward. (I'm not certain if they allow returns for other reasons, so you want to be sure you want the trip when you purchase!)

#4 - Family vs Adult

When I think "Adult resort," I think plenty of coffee available in the morning, no one blaring a boom box at the pool, and everyone's in bed by a reasonable hour. But not everyone defines it this way, and you may want to read the small print for phrases like "clothing optional."

We chose to book at a family resort. However, upon arrival, they offered to transfer us to a sister resort that was only for adults. This led to me forcing Billy to ask about wearing clothes. The guy looked at me and was all, "Oh no, Senora, you'll need to keep your clothes on." Okay, that wasn't why I was asking... Whatever.

#5 - Additional costs

So is the all-inclusive really free once you get there? In our experience, we needed to pay for transportation from the airport to the hotel. (There were plenty of taxis and shuttles available at the airport.) You can pay for this upfront, but Billy felt he could probably get us a better deal onsite.

There were tip jars set up everywhere even though the hotel information had said no tipping allowed. But it certainly wasn't required or even particularly expected.

But the Groupon we purchased covered our airfare and hotel stay, which included food. So we really did not need to pay anything additional once there. Of course, excursions were available for purchase at the hotel if you wanted to experience tourist activities around the area. But that's totally optional.

We were super satisfied with our travel experience, and we got an amazing deal on the trip thanks to Groupon. We will absolutely book travel this way again. In fact, Billy texts me a deal almost daily, suggesting we visit Paris, Barcelona, Jamaica. (I mean, I require a lot of convincing apparently!)

But the first time made me a bit nervous. I hope if you're considering it, these tips help! Seriously, browse these getaways and you'll be ready to hop a plane!

How do you get travel deals? Have you ever traveled with Groupon Getaways? Any questions I can help with? 
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. If you decide to purchase via a link in this post, you will help support this blog. Thanks so much!

Immigration In The News [Interview - Part 2]

Immigration in the news

If you've watched the news or scrolled through Facebook, you've probably heard about immigration lately. From wanting to institute drone strikes at the border to telling Jorge Ramos to 'get out of my country,' you might say a lot's been happening.

I'm back with writer, advocate, and immigration insider Matt Soerens for Part 2 of our interview. (You can see Part 1 on Birthright Citizenship here.)

Q: Why are we seeing so much conversation about immigration in politics currently?

Matt: I think there is generally an uptick in conversations on immigration during the lead-up to a presidential campaign because it's always a heated political issue. But I think it's fair to say the uniquely heated rhetoric right now is the result of the candidacy of Donald Trump.

He launched his campaign by describing immigrants as “rapists” and “bringing crime." Subsequently, he has proposed policies (mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants, a moratorium on lawful migration of immigrant workers, an end to birthright citizenship, and a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border paid for by Mexico) that were considered fringe policies just a month ago.

Now, several other presidential candidates have endorsed elements of Mr. Trump’s proposal (while several others, both Republicans and Democrats, have strongly pushed back). These moves have kept the topic in the news just about every day.

Q: Much of what I've read over recent years stresses the importance of comprehensive immigration reform to gain political success. Why do you think so many politicians are coming down so hard line on this issue?

Matt: Politicians—especially, frankly, Republican politicians—are in a political quagmire. Polls show quite consistently that the majority of Americans prefer a comprehensive immigration reform that would include an earned legalization process, a chance for undocumented immigrants to pay a fine (which distinguishes it from a pure amnesty), and receive a temporary legal status for a few years.

During that time, they could earn permanent legal status (and - in most versions of this proposal - eventual citizenship) presuming they are paying taxes, staying out of criminal trouble, and meeting other criteria.

Such a policy would also include improvements to border security, better enforcement of temporary visa over-stayers (which account for nearly half of those who are undocumented), and reforms to our antiquated visa system to make it more responsive to the needs of the American economy.

Polls have consistently shown that this sort of a package is popular with somewhere between 60% and 70% of all Americans (depending on precisely how the polling question is worded). LifeWay Research found that about 7 in 10 evangelical Christians would support a proposal that combined increased border security with an earned path to citizenship.

The Pew Research Center found in May that 80% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans support some earned legalization process for undocumented immigrants. However, some prefer they eventually be able to apply for citizenship, while others think they should be limited to permanent legal status.

In a General Election, a candidate’s support for immigration reform is a clear political asset. Support for reform might be a liability, though, in a Republican primary election, particularly in certain parts of the country.

While the majority of Republican voters do support reform, for most it is a secondary issue, not the issue that determines for whom they vote (which might be economic or tax policy, abortion, healthcare policy, religious liberty concerns, etc.).

For many of those who oppose comprehensive reform, though—many of whom I suspect have spent a lot of time listening to scary rhetoric about immigrants, and probably don’t know very many personally—this can be the issue that determines their vote.  Particularly when there are 17 candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination, a candidate might win the nomination with just 25% of Republican primary voters.

What we are observing right now, I think, is a “race to the bottom” with Mr. Trump currently winning the race to be the “toughest” on immigrants. He’s repelling at least half of Republican voters and probably three-quarters of all Americans with his rhetoric. But he does not necessarily need them to win the nomination.

(He’s any Democratic candidate’s dream opposition, as General Election voters will not forget his primary statements. Key staffers for Mitt Romney have acknowledged this, noting that Governor Romney’s support for “self-deportation” in the GOP primary was significantly responsible for his loss to President Obama).

The antidote to this is for people—especially, those in “red” parts of the country—to speak up vocally against the sort of rhetoric Mr. Trump is employing. That might mean writing letters to the editor of the local newspaper, sharing positive perspectives on immigration via social media, showing up at presidential campaign events or congressional town halls.

Any opportunity to help elected officials hear that there are passionate people who want immigration reform, and want to support candidates both for President and in the Congress who share their perspective.

Q: When we read about hate crimes inspired by political speeches, what can we do? How can we support our immigrant neighbors?

Matt: Very sadly, there has been at least one situation where a homeless man of Hispanic descent was urinated on and then beaten by two brothers who reportedly cited Donald Trump as their inspiration.

The sort of rhetoric that Mr. Trump has used has the effect of creating or reinforcing false stereotypes. One such example is that immigrants are all criminals. In reality, immigrants commit crimes at rates lower than U.S. citizens. This in turn engenders a lot of fear.

I think that among the best ways we can rebut this is by speaking the truth at every opportunity. Whether that’s on Facebook or Twitter, in conversations at work, in interactions with your children and their friends and their friends’ parents, or around the table with extended family.

For Christians, in particular, we need to challenge our fellow believers, at least a few of whom are “amen”-ing the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Mr. Trump and other politicians, to carefully consider what the Bible says on this topic—which is a lot!

The Evangelical Immigration Table has a great 40-verse Bible-reading plan that folks can download and print out called the “I Was a Stranger Challenge.” I’d also encourage your readers to ask their pastors to sign onto the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform and to consider preaching a sermon on God’s heart for immigrants.

The reality is that, according to a recent LifeWay Research poll, only about one in five evangelical Christians has ever heard a message on immigration at their church that encouraged them to reach out. This stat suggests that many of our churches are (perhaps unintentionally) leaving discipleship on this topic to Mr. Trump and those in the media. 

Finally, if you don’t know immigrants personally, get to know some. They will very likely refute all of the negative stereotypes. One particular way to do that is by volunteering with World Relief, the organization where I work, which resettles refugees in a couple dozen locations throughout the U.S. in partnership with local churches.

A huge thanks to Matt for his insight and wisdom on this important topic. If you haven't read his book, you should check it out.

Laugh Out Loud Cultural Comedy

Making jokes about race and culture is not easy. In fact, it often falls flat. At the same time, for those of us living in diverse environments, sharp and amusing observations can be a delightful gift.

This is how I felt when I came across this clip from Last Comic Standing (thank you, Mash-Up Americans.) I shared it on my Facebook page a while back, but we are still talking about it, so I thought I'd post it here. (Head's up, there's a little bit of inappropriateness.)

(If you're reading via RSS or email, you may need to click here to watch.)

Naturally, I have since been stalking Ryan Conner online. Billy and I also watched this video, and the story of him in CVS had me crying just a little bit. So there you go.

I don't watch Last Comic Standing, so I have no idea how he's doing. But I have watched this clip a gazillion times, and a friend recently texted me about our toddlers' shared love of lotion. "Hey," she reminded me. "We're all fighting the War on Ashy."

What do you think? Funny? Please feel free to share other funny links in the comments!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.