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Immigrants and Refugees: United Shades of America

From the week before Christmas to the first of the year there were not too many Northeast Ohio events to attend but we still found several things to write about.

The CNN documentary series "United Shades of America" is hosted by comedian and political commentator W. Kamau Bell and explores "the many diverse and colorful definitions of America".

This series has been going for two seasons now but we had never watched it before until we visited a family member who happened to be viewing an episode entitled "Immigrants and Refugees" which first aired on April 30, 2017.

During the course of the episode, Mr. Bell visited Gaithersburg, Maryland which takes great pride in the diversity of its population; in fact one resident described with affection how young people of many cultures joyously took part in a line dance at a recent 4th of July celebration.

Among the other people interviewed by Mr. Bell were a young man who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador and testified about his experience before Congress as well as a refugee from Syria.

Mr. Bell also visited "Casa Ruby", a non-profit in Washington, D.C. devoted to addressing the needs of Latina transgenders and LGBT immigrants. Its founder, Ms. Mary Jane Corado, talked about its history and the  important work that it does.

Undoubtedly the most challenging segment was when Mr. Bell sat down with Mr. Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who explained his beliefs. This was particularly tough for us to watch but Mr. Bell brought a welcomed sense of humor to the conversation and allowed Mr. Spencer to state his case without appearing to be threatened by him although Mr. Bell is, himself, an African-American.

Based on this episode, "United Shades of America" seems like a very worthwhile series and we hope to catch up with the episodes that we missed that include "Muslims in Small-Town America"; "Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico"; and "It's Chinatown!"

For those not familiar with this program and/or would like to learn more about it, the website is

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


Kwasi Bediako