Often when you’re an immigrant writing in English, people think it’s primarily a commercial choice. But for many of us, it’s a choice that rises out of the circumstances of our lives. These are the tools I have at my disposal, based on my experiences. It’s a constant debate, not just in my community but in other communities…Where do you belong? You’re kind of one of us, but you now write in a different language. You’re told you don’t belong to American literature or you’re told you don’t belong to Haitian literature. Maybe there’s a place on the hyphen, as Julia Alvarez so brilliantly wrote in one of her essays. That middle generation, the people whose parents brought them to other countries as small children, or even people who were born to immigrant parents, maybe they can have their own literature too.
'…Jobs involving communication and expression (music, journalism and so forth) are suddenly much harder to come by, because information is now held to be free. Naturally, a 19th-century trope, the Horatio Alger story, has reappeared. With enough hard work, opportunity is said to be around the corner for young journalists and musicians. Alas, there are only a few genuine success stories. Almost everyone else in the game lives on false hope…'
…accepting the benefits of an informal economy—reputation and barter—while helping a small, distant elite build real wealth…The fate of journalism and music awaits every other industry, and every kind of job, unless this pattern is undone. As this century unfolds…More and more activities will be operated by software. Instead of Teamsters, there will be robotic trucks. Where there had once been miners, there will be mining robots. Instead of factories, there will be 3-D printers in every home. Experimental robots have already outperformed many a white-collar worker, including the legal researcher, the pharmacist and the scientific investigator. All forms of automation ultimately rely on data that come from people, however. There is no magical “artificial intelligence.” When a big, remote computer translates a document from English to Spanish, for instance, it doesn’t understand what it is doing. It is only mashing up earlier translations created by real people, who have been forgotten because of the theater of the Internet. There are always real people behind the curtain. The rise of inequality isn’t because of people not being needed—more precisely, it’s because of an illusion that they aren’t even there.