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Immigrant Stories That Will Get You In Your Feelings

Or as Heben put it "You cannot think of all the things that could have happened and also be a functional human.”

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This week on the Another Round podcast, we've collected stories about immigration from some of our favorite past guests.

The joy! The angst! The hustle!

Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Career Magician™️, talked about how moving to Europe from Trinidad when she was 17 prepared her to navigate lots of different cultural situations, especially in the workplace.

Westbury Road Entertainment / Via

“Sometimes you feel like you have to do things that you don't even want to just so other people feel motivated to.”


Jenny Zhang, poet and author extraordinaire, is doing the damn thing— but her reflection on what it's like to have parents who never fully understand you gave us all the feels.

Octopus Books / Via

"If you are someone with a lot of ambition who has done what your parents wanted you to do— which is be really successful and great—it’s suddenly like you're in this world that they can't possibly understand and that's what they wanted for you. But it’s also sad because now it means there's a part of you they'll never understand. Part of them loving me is accepting that they’ve released me to be someone they can’t understand.”

No, YOU'RE crying 😭😭

Then there's tech superstar and inclusiveness champion Anil Dash who still can't quite believe that he's “the first generation that had enough time to sit there and be like: ‘but what if I told a story’…?”

Netflix / Via

One of the hardest part of having immigrant parents in his opinion?

"How they wait for us...Their expectations around of who we’re going to be. We're thoughtless in trampling their vision because they didn’t realize they were going to have an American kid.”

Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef star and author of Love, Loss and What We Ate, talked about how her Indian roots ground her in everything she does and loves.

Instagram: @padmalakshmi

Here she is cooking and looking like a MILLION BUCKS of happiness in her grandma's kitchen.

Of her success, Padma says "It's not the money that's important, it’s the power that comes with it.”

Instagram: @padmalakshmi

For her, it's all about the ability to "bring in elements of my culture that are important to me."


And in case you live at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine with no wifi, Lin-Manuel Miranda has been putting immigrants in the spotlight in a big way on Broadway.

Hamilton on Broadway / CBS / Via

The Hamilton star says he's basically been code-switching since birth, starting with his name. "Call me Lin," he said when his kindergarten teachers would butcher his name.

Now he's got a baby of his own to explain his Puerto Rican heritage to! Though so far his son sees no difference between his dad and Katt Williams...

The Pimp Chronicles Pt 1 / Via Salient Media, Hamilton/Joan Marcus

He's working on it.

She says she's ten thousand percent over being hollered at as a 'young East African girl.'

Aftermath/Interscope Records / Via

Hannah says she's sometimes uncomfortable with how the physical features of East African women are exoticized and fetishized within Black American culture — "Rappers [and others] will name these really specific features as being endemic to all of East Africa. Which A) is false and B) they’re all the features — light skin, loosely curled hair, thin noses…” in other words, valued for their proximity to whiteness.


And speaking of pressure from traditional western beauty standards, can you even *believe* there was a time when Uzo Aduba thought she shouldn't smile?!?

Instagram: @uzoaduba

Shout out to Uzo's fierce Mama who was not here for the haters "Everyone in our family has gap. To close yourself off from that is to close yourself off from who you are."

So to quote the wise Tracy Clayton, "Brown people in America are like one big braid...and each of those strands is its own experience..."

Twitter @babyheirandafro

"BUT at the end of the day you come together and you make this big-ass Beyoncé styled braid that has a mind of its own."

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Chiquita Paschal is an audio producer with BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Chiquita Paschal at

Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy podcast.

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