Thank You, Long Island Wins

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After three years as online editor at Long Island Wins, today will be my last day. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a fantastic group of people, at our organization; at our home on the SUNY Old Westbury campus; and across Long Island, from Elmont to East Hampton.

We’ve also had a wonderful community of readers and writers, many of whom routinely join in the conversation about immigration on Long Island and beyond, adding insight and opinions, and creating a dialogue.

Next week, I begin a new adventure as the immigration editor at Univision News, a freshly born news organization geared toward Latinos (check it out on Tumblr).

I couldn’t be more excited to join the talented roster of reporters and editors already assembled at Univision News, but before I sign off at Long Island Wins, I wanted to take a quick stroll down blogger memory lane.

To do that, I logged into our Google Analytics account, which tracks the number of pageviews and visits for each post, and pulled up the top five stories from June 2009 to present day. Drum roll:

#5 Immigrant America on the Eve of the Civil War, March 2, 2011

Any reader of Long Island Wins will tell you that Pat Young is one of the most knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated immigration bloggers in the country. He’s written extensively on immigration politics, law, and policy, but among a certain set of readers, he’s best know for his ongoing history series, “The Immigrants’ Civil War.”

Week after week, the popular series draws a loyal crowd of readers to the Long Island Wins website to hear tales about German-speaking regiments in the Union Army or Irish revolutionaries turned war heroes.

On the Facebook page for The Immigrants’ Civil War, Pat recently described his work plan, which doesn’t surprise me:

When I started writing The Immigrants’ Civil War, it was envisioned as a 12 part series spread out over 4 years. There are already 59 major articles and 16 shorter pieces I’ve posted with three years of writing left! I have already spent more than 1,800 hours researching the series and do not plan on having a real life until I am 57 years old.

As Pat has told me, I’ll have to keep reading until 2015 to find out who wins.

#4 Justice for Marcelo Lucero- Trial Coverage, March 1, 2010 – August 25, 2010

In November 2008, Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death in Patchogue after he was attacked by a group of Suffolk County teens who had repeatedly targeted Latinos, a crime spree that some members of the group referred to as “beaner hopping.” The crime sent shockwaves through Long Island, with residents turning to county politicians, police, and schools for answers.

When the trial began for Lucero’s killer, I followed the courtroom action in the greatest detail our resources would allow, traveling from my Manhattan apartment to the courthouse in Riverhead on a near-daily basis, and typing out blog updates from the courtroom hallway, my minivan, or local restaurants. The resulting compendium, “Justice for Marcelo Lucero- Trial Coverage,” consisted of nearly 100 blog posts and court documents related to the trial, all created by myself or Pat Young. Many posts featured information that couldn’t be found in other news sources. Covering the trial was one of the most intense experiences of my career, but also one of the most rewarding.

#3 Action Alert: Boycott Arizona Over Draconian Immigration Law, July 28, 2010

When Arizona passed it’s “show me your papers” law, SB 1070, in summer 2010, Long Island Wins Executive Director Maryann Sinclair Slutsky immediately took a stand against the legislation, joining the nationwide boycott of Arizona and calling for others to follow suit. Long Island Wins released a petition and press release about the boycott, which drew hundreds of comments from both supporters and opponents. Here’s part of the press release from the post entitled, “Action Alert: Boycott Arizona Over Draconian Immigration Law”:

Long Island Wins Calls for a Boycott of Arizona Over Draconian Immigration Law

“Thinking about traveling to Arizona anytime soon? We’ve got a better idea: Stay home,” says Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, director of Long Island Wins.

Port Washington, N.Y.-  In light of a recently passed anti-immigrant bill in Arizona—which will force immigrants to carry documentation of their immigration status at all times, and invite racial profiling by police—Long Island Wins is joining a nationwide call for a boycott of the state’s goods, services, and tourism.

“The boycott isn’t just punishment for a piece of legislation that tramples on the civil rights of Arizona residents,” said Maryann Sinclair Slutsky. “It’s for everyone’s own safety.”

Those following the fate of SB 1070 know that two months ago the law was largely declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. While SB 1070’s racial profiling provision remains, it’s possible the court may strike that down as well, once the law is in effect and proof of racial profiling emerges.

#2 Long Islanders To Hold Hearing on Religious Freedom in Response to Peter King’s Focus on Muslims, June 10, 2011

A little over a year ago, I might have mistaken conservative talk show host Michael Savage for his namesake from The Wonder Years. After Savage’s website, Savage Nation, linked to Long Island Wins in June 2011, however, I became intimately acquainted with the commentator’s anti-Muslim views and fanbase.

It all started when we posted a piece about a hearing in defense of religious freedom, to be held at the Islamic Center of Long Island. The event was in response to Long Island Congressman Peter King’s hearings on homegrown terrorism, which focused explicitly on Muslim Americans and refused to investigate the problem in a comprehensive manner, ignoring, for example, the threat of white power extremists.

Savage Nation linked to the piece and thousands of visitors flooded to the Long Island Wins website, posting vitriolic anti-Muslim comments and deriding the organizations supporting the counter-hearing, including Long Island Wins. More than any other moment as online editor, I realized that, at times, comments are less about dialogue and more about having a vehicle to spew negativity.

#1 Mark Your Calendar: The 2012 Dominican Day Parade, June 15, 2012

This pleasant little blog post on the 2012 Dominican Day Parade in New York City is our all-time most visited story. The post, written by SUNY Old Westbury student and LIW intern Niesha Jett, lists basic info about the parade and reaches out to those “craving some merengue dancing and traditional Dominican dishes like empanadas and quipes.”

While it may seem funny that a culture post has attracted more visitors than our news and policy pieces, from my perspective, it’s not surprising. People from all different backgrounds have pride in their ancestry, whether their roots are Dominican, Irish, Indian, or Korean. While the mainstream media writes extensively about certain cultural events, like St. Patrick’s Day, reporters overlook others, and that’s where we’ve been able to fill the gap. Part of the mission of Long Island Wins is to highlight the commonalities that we all have when it comes to immigration. Liberal or conservative, immigrant or US-born, most people agree that good food, music, and friends can soften, and even supersede, ideological boundaries. We hope that stories like this one will help accomplish that.

Let me finish by giving a shout out to the amazing, hardworking staff at Long Island Wins: our executive director, Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, who gave me the life-changing opportunity to cover immigration and immigrant rights; Lisa DeBourg, our administrative coordinator and the glue holding our office together; and Hendel Leiva, the organizer for our Welcoming Long Island initiative, whose energy and creativity have brought a fresh excitement to our work.

I should also mention our partners in the “Growing a Diverse Long Island” series of candidate forums, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table and Noticia. In particular, the work of Eliana López, Silvana Diaz, and Daniel Altschuler have made these events a resounding success and I’m already looking forward to the candidate forums this fall.

To all the other folks I’ve met on Long Island over the past three years—and there are far too many to list here—best of luck and stay in touch!

Sincerely,

Ted Hesson
@tedhesson


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