In an attempt to change minds on President Donald Trump’s refugee ban, a New York-based photographer has launched a project to highlight the contributions that refugees have made to the United States.
The project named “Made by Refugee” was launched by photographer Kien Quan and his creative partner Jillian Young. The pair launched the project across the city by putting the label “Made by Refugee” on products and items that were made possible by refugees.
Although the labels are simple paper cut-outs they send a very strong message across.
“It makes people realize that migrants have been a part of our lives all along in the goods we consume. This perspective makes people question their views,” said Quan.
The labels were tapped to products from sriracha sauce, created by Vietnamese refugee David Tranto, to books by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. They also made sure to add the label to Anne Frank’s diary and the Bible as well.
“I just had a thought, ‘If this refugee didn’t come over and create sriracha, nobody in Brooklyn would be saying ‘This is the newest rage,’” he added.
So far, the pair has hit up corner markets, supermarkets, music stores and libraries. They have encouraged people from around the world to spread their message by putting the labels onto products and items in their towns and cities.
“I think there has been a large amount of xenophobia worldwide. Whether it is China, Western Europe, USA or other nations, most nations have low approval for refugees. At the same time, this has been a repeating issue throughout every single crisis. Because this topic is top of mind, I do agree that the current political climate is essential to [the project’s] meaning,” he said.
The pair wants people to realize the importance of refugees and want to extend a helping hand to them. Despite knowing that breaking the stereotype won’t be an easy job, Quan has high hopes.
“I do not think one project will dismantle all stereotypes but if I can change one person’s view in the world, I think this was a success,” he said.
He was moved to launch the project after the first iteration of President Donald Trump's refugee ban was implemented earlier this year. Trump signed an executive order, just days after assuming office, that put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the U.S. and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucy Nicholson