We Are All Suspects Now by Tram Nguyen

Everyone Has Become A Suspect

   Emily Abbate

The moon’s glow hits the pavement as you park your car outside of your friend’s Queens apartment. The second hands shadow graces the number two upon your watch and a yawn emerges from tired lips. You walk up the stairs into your friend’s apartment where the two of you begin cooking dinner.

Unexpectedly six or seven FBI agents bust into the apartment, break down the door and scare the tiredness from every crevice of your body. After the initial, “freeze put your hands up in the air!” the agents ask you for your status.

Sound surreal? Real life “Midnight raids” such as these have occured throughout the United States since Sept. 11; Ali Raza’s above story is just one of many that Tram Nguyen writes about in her book, “We Are All Suspects Now: Untold stories from immigrant communities after 9/11.”

Nguyen discussed her novel yesterday at the Co-op, an event sponsored by slAAm!, (Sampling Literature by Asian Americans!) an on-campus book club that supports and aids in the exploration of Asian American Literature amongst faculty, staff, students and members of the community.

In “We Are All Suspects Now,” Nguyen examines the human cost of the country’s own war on terrorism since the Sept. 11 tragedy.

“Tram Nguyen reveals the human cost of the domestic war on terror and examines the impact of post-9/11 policies on people targeted because of immigration status, nationality, and religion,” according to Amazon.com.

At the book discussion, Nguyen talked about how these stories have been hidden from the American public.

“It’s very urgent that people that are feeling the immediate effects [of the government tactics] make themselves visible to the public,” she said.

In accordance with Nguyen’s point of view, Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author, mentioned in the foreword of the novel, “We are indeed, all of us, suspects.”

Within the novel, Nguyen takes her readers on a journey through the United States – whether it be through the hollows of Brooklyn or the sunny coast of Los Angeles.

She tells MotherJones.com, “Right after September 11, I heard stories of people disappearing, especially in the East Coast. I heard from a South Asian organization in Brooklyn called the Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) about increasing numbers of people being picked up off the streets or from their homes, and no one knew what happened to them.”

This disappearing act is still happening today. Most recently in New Bedford, Mass. – 300 ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) agents and other law enforcement officers raided the Michael Bianco Inc. factory on the New Bedford waterfront and seized hundreds of immigrant workers.

Towards the end of the reading, one audience member asked, “When is enough going to be enough?”

In response Nguyen replied, “That is a good question, and I would ask the same of you.”

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