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Reclaiming language

Reclaiming the word “migrant”

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The word “migrant” is being used as a dirty word by many in society, and the sector is now encouraging us to avoid it. But why? It is not our fault, as migrants, that this word has been used negatively. It is not up to the sector (which is largely White and non-migrant led) to tell migrants and migratised people that we shouldn’t use this word to describe our truth. 

Because this word is our truth. We or our parents/grandparents migrated to this country. And their journeys, or our journeys, have affected our lives in intimate and irreversible ways. 

My identity as a second-generation migrant impacts my life on a daily basis. It explains why I feel most at home amongst other diaspora children, and why I long to go back to my country during the holidays. 

My identity as a second generation migrant also informs my experiences and my attitudes about the world. I find migration to be a fascinating thing, because we have defied the trajectory meant for us in search for a new path. This journey is an emotional one: at times it is difficult, yet it is meaningful nonetheless. 

Defiance of trajectories is something that we can embed in all of our lives. We can use this orientation to interrogate and be curious about the world, to ask questions, to try new things, and to change our paths. It is deeply ironic, and not surprising, that a White-led sector is shutting down our reclamation of this word. It goes hand in hand with their refusal to transform.

Migration shows that the world, that our lives, are constantly in flux. Migration points to this one universal truth: that everything changes, and that nothing stays the same. 

There is power in that. As migrants, we are children of change, of transformation, of unpredictability, and of new beginnings. I am proud to be a migrant. We should be proud to be migrants. And the sector has no right to tell us otherwise.

by Anastasia Gavalas

Do you have a story to share about reclaiming this word? Get in touch: [email protected]