Colorlines

Michelle Chen

Michelle Chen
Columnist, Global Justice
New York, NY

Michelle Chen is Colorlines' Global Justice columnist. She is a regular contributor on labor issues at In These Times, as well as a member of the magazine's Board of Editors. Michelle's reporting has appeared in Ms. Magazine, AirAmerica, Alternet, Newsday, the Progressive Media Project, and her old zine, cain. Prior to joining Colorlines, she wrote for the independent news collective The NewStandard. A native New Yorker, she has also conducted ethnographic research as a Fulbright fellow in Shanghai and checked coats at a West Village jazz club. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the City University of New York and co-producing the community radio program Asia Pacific Forum on Pacifica's WBAI.

Follow Michelle at @meeshellchen.

High-tech Border Fence Boondoggle Doesn't Pay

High-tech Border Fence Boondoggle Doesn’t Pay

by Michelle Chen on June 21 2010, 10:35AM

Remember that superduper high-tech border fence that lawmakers were gunning for a few years ago, the one that was going to turn the U.S.-Mexico boundary into a wonderland of militaristic gadgetry? A government audit unearthed the long-dormant multibillion-dollar project to…

Topics: Immigration

New York Moves to Keep Incarcerated Parents Connected to Kids

New York Moves to Keep Incarcerated Parents Connected to Kids

by Michelle Chen on June 17 2010, 10:27AM

The prison system and the child welfare system both have the power to split families apart, and too often, they are tragically linked when the state imposes its judgment that a parent is no longer worthy of her child. For…

Topics: Criminal Justice, Schools & Youth

Remembrance: Soweto Massacre and Bloody Sunday

Remembrance: Soweto Massacre and Bloody Sunday

by Michelle Chen on June 16 2010, 9:43AM

This week brings somber remembrances of two acts of massive brutality that occurred about a generation ago on opposite ends of the hemisphere. Both incidents exposed the shame of racial or ethnic strife under colonization, both galvanized radical social movements…

Topics: Global Affairs

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Day Labor Ban

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Day Labor Ban

by Michelle Chen on June 15 2010, 1:30PM

The courts have delivered a mixed bag for immigrants in recent days. The Supreme Court issued a breakthrough decision for immigrants yesterday, restoring some judicial discretion to the deportation process. But in California, a federal appeals court upheld a local…

Topics: Immigration

Mail Order Wombs: Outsourcing Birth to India

Mail Order Wombs: Outsourcing Birth to India

by Michelle Chen on June 15 2010, 10:10AM

So much of America’s economic activity takes place on faraway shores, from call centers in Mumbai to sweatshops in Shanghai. Still, you’d think that making a baby would be one job that’s hard to offshore. But today, for a fee,…

Topics: Global Affairs, Health

Study: Latino Immigrants Choose 'White' Pass

Study: Latino Immigrants Choose ‘White’ Pass

by Michelle Chen on June 14 2010, 2:56PM

With draconian anti-immigrant laws and deportation dragnets in high gear, it looks like America’s racial barriers are hardening against the Latino community. But who draws those lines? Researchers from University of Illinois and Ohio State have examined the racial identities…

Topics: Immigration

Race Drives Jobless Numbers in Worst-Hit Cities

Race Drives Jobless Numbers in Worst-Hit Cities

by Michelle Chen on June 14 2010, 9:29AM

The unemployment rate varies wildly across different regions. But there’s one consistent pattern throughout: to find the people hurting the most, look to the neighborhoods where Black and brown people live. The Economic Policy Institute’s latest breakdown of unemployment looks…

Topics: Economy, Race and Recession

FIFA's World Cup Having a Ball With Child Labor

FIFA’s World Cup Having a Ball With Child Labor

by Michelle Chen on June 11 2010, 10:42AM

South Africa is the center of world this week, kicking off the first-ever World Cup Games on the African continent. But as the cameras pan across green fields and lavish festivities, labor activists are keeping their eye on the ball….

Topics: Global Affairs

Today in Anti-Muslim Party Politics: Dutch Edition

by Michelle Chen on June 10 2010, 12:15PM

With the Tea Party making inroads in primaries across the country, you might think the rabid outbursts and vapid sloganeering are a peculiarly American phenomenon. But in fact, Thursday’s elections in the Netherlands show that the U.S. has no monopoly…

Topics: Global Affairs, Immigration

In Oil Spill, Bayou Tribes Confront Yet Another Invasion

In Oil Spill, Bayou Tribes Confront Yet Another Invasion

by Michelle Chen on June 9 2010, 11:42AM

How many invasions can a community take? The Indians of Pointe-au-Chien in Southern Louisiana have endured centuries of colonization and exploitation—under the French, the Americans, and now, the oil industry.

Topics:

Helen Thomas Pays for Crossing a Line Others Trample

by Michelle Chen on June 8 2010, 11:38AM

By now you’ve heard: pioneering Washington journalist Helen Thomas has, thanks to a viral video interview, been pilloried for offensive comments about Israel and ousted from the press corps’ inner sanctum. Her words were definitely incendiary—Jews should “get the hell…

Topics: Media

Texas Settlement Could Be Blueprint for Disaster Recovery

by Michelle Chen on June 8 2010, 10:59AM

While the government struggles to confront the mounting catastrophe on the Gulf Coast, a legal settlement in Texas is set to put hundreds of millions in long overdue relief funds into the hands of disaster victims. Since the 2008 hurricane…

Topics: Environment

Questions Shadow Higher Ed Reform for Students of Color

by Michelle Chen on June 7 2010, 1:39PM

Under Obama’s education reform agenda, billions in grant money is headed down the pipeline, including a boost for community colleges and sweeping reforms in K-12 schools. Schools that focus on communities of color may have the most to gain and…

Topics: Schools & Youth

Under Political Siege, Muslim Americans Confront America’s Ugly Side

by Michelle Chen on June 7 2010, 12:02PM

Besieged by media attacks and riven by internal conflicts, Muslim American communities have been wrestling with an identity crisis for years now. The latest slew of “homegrown terrorism” allegations has prompted the Obama administration to show that it’s at least…

Topics: Immigration, National Security, Politics

In the Wake of Health Reform, Abortion Under Attack

by Michelle Chen on June 4 2010, 10:00AM

When health care reform finally limped past the finish line on Capitol Hill, the compromises littering the final bill left many activists disillusioned, but some hoped that action on the state level could keep the progressive reform movement moving…

Topics: Health, Politics

Judge Not: NJ Gov. Christie Ousts Lone Black Justice

by Michelle Chen on June 3 2010, 10:35AM

New Jersey’s new governor is zealously spreading a conservative agenda across his state, all the way up to the courthouse door. Gov. Chris Christie has sparked outrage in his decision not to reappoint the one Black judge of the state…

Topics: Criminal Justice, Politics

The Disappearing Children of Arizona

The Disappearing Children of Arizona

by Michelle Chen on June 1 2010, 10:27AM

Public schools anticipate steep drops in enrollment that may be tied to swelling fears about the new anti-immigrant law.

Topics: Arizona's SB 1070, Immigration

American Occupation Casts Long Shadows Over Okinawa

by Michelle Chen on June 1 2010, 9:06AM

On Memorial Day, America honored its war dead. Across the Pacific Ocean, the ghosts of war continue to haunt the coastline of Japan, now awash in political angst over the military base on the island of Okinawa. Last week, the…

Topics: Global Affairs

Supreme Court Keeps Firefighters’ Civil Rights Claim Alive

by Michelle Chen on May 25 2010, 10:02AM

Once again, a city fire department is in the hot seat for employment discrimination and prompting the Supreme Court to set crucial precedents for civil rights law. This time, thousands of Black firefighters in Chicago got the green light…

Topics:

Muslim Community Center Rumbles Ground Zero in NYC

by Michelle Chen on May 25 2010, 8:50AM

Nearly nine years after the Twin Towers collapsed, Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan is still smoldering. The public response to a proposal to build an Islamic center near the site has reignited the embers of anti-Muslim animosity. The right-wing blogosphere…

Topics: Mosque Mania