John Rapson is that rare professor whose teaching leaves such an imprint on your mind and heart that you remain indebted forever. For this reason, I agreed to be part of this project well before I fully understood what it was.
Then I read Kathryn Schulz’s June 2016 New Yorker article that inspired John and Nielo Gaglione‘s creation of this multimedia piece now known as Hot Tamale Louie and it was these words that cemented my devotion:
“The history of immigrants is, to a huge extent, the history of this nation, though so is the pernicious practice of determining that some among us do not deserve full humanity, and full citizenship. Zarif Khan was deemed insufficiently American on the basis of skin color; ninety years later, when the presence of Muslims among us had come to seem like a crisis, his descendants were deemed insufficiently American on the basis of faith.
Over and over, we forget what being American means. The radical premise of our nation is that one people can be made from many, yet in each new generation we find reasons to limit who those “many” can be—to wall off access to America, literally or figuratively. That impulse usually finds its roots in claims about who we used to be, but nativist nostalgia is a fantasy. We have always been a pluralist nation, with a past far richer and stranger than we choose to recall.”
We leave in just under three weeks to bring this story back to Wyoming where it originated and we invite our community to send us off with your love and support by joining us for a free performance at Coe College on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm.
Thank you and please spread the word!