Do the costs outweigh the benefits?

Just when I start to form an opinion one way or another, this class always manages to reorganize my thoughts. We’ve talked so much about why resettlement is beneficial but other than observations that could be made from the documentary God Grew Tired of Us we haven’t been able to get an idea of some of the negative consequences of the resettlement process. This class is not only teaching my critical thinking skills, but it also has taught me not to jump to conclusions. This was certainly a conclusion that I had jumped to a while ago and I have been sitting on since. Every action has consequences and whether they be good or bad, those who are resettling in host nations experience hardships regardless of where they are. America is an especially difficult place to resettle for a number of reasons.

1. Objectification
“In this structure refugees are misrecognized as nonspeaking subjects when political officials and service agencies speak and provide services on their behalf, without speaking ‘‘to’’ and ‘‘with’’ refugees of their needs.”
By perpetuating the stateless identity of refugees we are sympathizing and not empathizing. We are learning to feel sorry for them instead of understanding them and helping them. How do we get them what they need? what they want? Why are we making decisions on behalf on their opinions? Are we making assumptions on behalf of those who have been displaced? This article states that this perception of refugees only contributes to the misconceptions that society holds about refugees.

2. “Being Black in a nation with a long history of racism”
“Even though his skin is the same color as many Americans, and he wears the same clothing as many American youth, he still feels like an outsider.”
Although the Lost Boys attempt to accommodate to the American culture, they specifically experience racial profiling and distrust amongst people wherever they go. They have to learn to live in a society where white privilege is predominant and people are sometimes persecuted for the color of their skin. They begin to become defined by their racial identity and this is yet another issue that refugees in general experience as they attempt to resettle into the host nation. The article mentions the idea of “otherness” and especially for the Lost Boys, their dark skin signifies this allowing people to make assumptions and judgements about them.

These are some of the more salient factors that I recognized when reading the article, and while their are other difficulties involved in resettlement, these 2 alone can have an incredible impact on the psyche of refugees. I find that this class has been unique in terms of my college education. I never know quite where to stand and I definitely find myself making quick decisions about the topics we discuss. Yet, what I love the most about it is that each week I improve on my conclusions, understanding more and more about genocide, resettlement and advocacy.

-Anna

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