Last fall, IPC produced a report about The New American Electorate: The Growing Political Power of Immigrants and Their Children discussing how immigrants and their native-born children, born after 1965, were closely connected to the issue of immigration and that it would prove to be an important factor in their voting decisions. Fast forward to now and it becomes clear that “New American” power extends beyond the voting booth and into the living rooms of more than 20 million viewers each week through the wildly popular reality television show, American Idol.
The 8th season of America Idol is underway and two-finalists on the show are themselves New Americans:
Teen-age rock songstress, Allison Iraheta is a finalist on the show. The daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, Iraheta got her start singing in a Latin-shopping center in her native Los Angeles and went on to win a Spanish-language Idol-esque talent-show on Telemundo. Now she is one of 11 finalists competing for the American Idol crown.
Another finalist on the show Anoop Desai (Anoop-dog) grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Desai’s father is an immigrant from India and his mother, also of Indian descent, is from South Africa. With his cool North Carolinian accent Desai prefers to sing R&B and is also battling for the recording contract that comes with an American Idol win.
There have been other Idol contestants in the past who are also New Americans like last season’s David Archuleta and Jason Castro and it shouldn’t be lost that the show’s creator is love-to-hate-him, British-born music mogul Simon Cowell and its favorite judge Paul Abdul is the daughter of Syrian-Brazilian and Canadian immigrants.
Reality television may not be the most serious place to point to when attempting to have important conversations about immigration policy, but it is sure a powerful example of how integrated immigrants and their children are into the fabric of our everyday lives and how it is hard to imagine a world without them.
America has voted and they love American Idol and its New American stars of the future.
FILED UNDER: Video