Okay, hear me out. I agree with this but I also think there is value in the differentiated terms. Not all immigrant experience is equal, and “expat” encapsulates a specific set of privileges that are not afforded to other immigrants. https://twitter.com/emmaloves_blog/status/1302773434896744448
I am the immigrant child of immigrant children of immigrants. 3rd generation immigrant. But my experience of immigration is wildly different than my friends who are more usually labeled immigrants.
I am white, with western European heritage and a name typical of the area we emigrated to (western Europe). When we emigrated my parents emigrated from lower to upper middle class. I attended a private international school surrounded by other immigrants -
- in fact I always felt uncool because we hadn’t moved around *enough* and I felt being flat American with European parents was somehow not exotic enough to make me interesting. We lived in a bubble, rarely mixing with the people in the actual community we lived in -
- and though I learned the language of the area poorly as a kid from my dad and continued to learn it poorly at school, I never *had* to speak any other language than English, my mother tongue, because it’s anyways the global lingua franca
I am now slightly more integrated into the actual culture here. Switzerland is 30+% immigrants, did you know that? So I have a lot of friends who are immigrants to Switzerland. And they call me an expat. And they do it with some (loving) derision.
Because I have no clue what it’s like to be an immigrant the way they & their families were immigrants. Because of the privilege afforded me by my whiteness, my Western European-rooted culture, but most of all, by my parents’ socioeconomic class.
I think blinding ourselves to the difference of experiences faced by immigrants does all of us a disservice. Expats are a subset of immigrants and it’s an important distinction rooted in privilege that should be recognized and understood for its affects on experience. End thread.
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