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Whose American Dream Is It Anyway?
What's the point of designating a so-called American Dream if we're not willing to extend it to anyone and everyone who works hard to make this country a better place?
Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Dan-el Padilla Peralta came to the United States with his family at the age of four and remained in the country when his visa expired, thus making him an undocumented immigrant.. He received his BA summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he was chosen salutatorian of the class of 2006. He received his MPhil from the University of Oxford and his PhD in classics from Stanford University. He is currently a Mellon Research Fellow at Columbia University. His memoir Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League was published in July 2015.
Dan-el Padilla Peralta: We need to think very carefully about what we mean when we use the term "American Dream." And this has been the subject of several recent books that have come out, including Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, in which Coates really pushes back against the dream as a concept. I'm interested in work that asks us to consider what is at stake when we imagine someone who has met or checked off the boxes that we associate with the American Dream. So on the one hand, I went to all of these institutions that are viewed as markers of a certain kind of success. At the same time, though, it's imperative that we think about ways of succeeding in American society that go beyond some of the traditional attributes of the American Dream.
And this now brings me back to undocumented migrants. So on the one hand many undocumented migrants are not in my position. They, for many reasons, are hindered or have been hindered in obtaining their dreams. But one of the reasons that we think of dreamers and one of the reasons why the undocumented youth movement has taken up that label enthusiastically is because we believe that it is even at the margins of American society, these margins that are created by U.S. immigration policy, that so much amazing work is being done by families, by communities to commit wholeheartedly to the pursuit of this thing we call the American Dream. These are migrants who have contributed to their communities, who have worked hard and with persistence to ensure the very best for their children. In a word, they exemplify everything that we conventionally associate with the American Dream. And for those migrants to be labeled as un-American almost beggars the mind. It calls into question why in fact we have this designation "the American Dream" in the first place if we're not willing to extend it to anyone and everyone who works hard to make this country a better place.
What's the point of designating a so-called American Dream "if we're not willing to extend it to anyone and everyone who works hard to make this country a better place?"
Such is the query posed in this video by Dan-el Padilla Peralta, author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy's Odyssey From a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. Dan-el has a wonderful story: He went from being an undocumented immigrant child in a NYC homeless shelter to an Ivy League success story and in turn became one of the faces of immigration reform when he was featured in The Wall Street Journal in 2006. To Dan-el, there are few people in the U.S. who best embody the traditional idea of what the American Dream is... and they're the exact people most often labeled "un-American."
We've seen plenty of pushback against the Dream as a concept in recent work by authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates. Padilla builds on that line of questioning with regard to undocumented immigrants. What's the point of the concept if it can't be applied to everyone?
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".