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Honoring someone’s story

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Dear Editor:

My name is Estefania Acosta and I was one of the people interviewed for the article “The Silent Trauma of Immigration” published on Sept. 4, 2019.

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When I was given the opportunity to share my story as an immigrant, I wasn’t aware of how it would be used in the article. I was just happy that an article on the trauma of immigration was being written and that I could be part of it.

I shared my story in an interview that took a little over an hour, in which I responded to several questions about the process of coming to this country and how traumatizing it can be. I also described the methods of crossing that I am familiar with by my own lived experience and this brought a lot of pain and memories to me and despite that I kept going with the interview. My coworker who identifies as white Anglo was also interviewed for this article.

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When I read the article I was hurt and so disappointed. It hurt to see that despite me telling the reporter my story, what it’s like to cross the border, to be with strangers, to leave your home and everything you know, they still decided to use what the white Anglo person thought it was like even though they don’t have nor will ever experience what it’s like.

Reading this article made me feel devalued — like my story and experience are not enough. I was also able to understand why immigrants do not feel comfortable sharing their stories with the mediA: our stories are used in a way that better suits the media, without taking into consideration how this action affects the person sharing something so private and vulnerable or the impact that it will have on that individual.

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I would recommend that if someone is interested in writing an informative article about the immigrant community, they try to connect with us in a way that honors our story.

People think that the media intentions when connecting with the community are to help prevent situations, or provide awareness about a topic. I would also recommend that as media reporters, you all pay special attention to the way you misguide or let people you interview believe you will use or publish their story or information shared by them.  Transparency is important and the lack of it can also have a negative impact and/or increase a trauma for a person. 

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I imagine many others have had similar experiences. These leave us with a bad impression of the media and their intentions when they come to us in search of answers that only we have because at the end of the day we are the experts in this. We have the lived experience and that is something that we treasure, value and will always carry with us.

Estefania “Fani” Acosta
Advocate Safehouse

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