Lena Dunham has penned an essay about immigrant women in honor of International Women’s Day, asking for her readers to fight “with and for them.”
“Someone I love is undocumented,” the actress began her essay, first posted on LinkedIn. “She is a personal hero of mine: She has cared for the dying, for the just-born, for people who can’t care for themselves. She has a vast and encompassing religious identity rooted only in love. She feeds people literally and figuratively. She is everything you could hope for from an American. But she has not been allowed to become one.”
Dunham wrote that her friend doesn’t travel much besides going to and from work and has her children (American-born citizens) do most of her communicating. That’s why she was shocked when her friend said she would be taking the day off to march for immigrants’ rights.
“What if she were arrested and detained or, worse yet, deported? Her native home is not a safe place for any woman, and her situation is particularly difficult. What would befall her if she made herself vulnerable in this way?” Dunham wrote. “But she didn’t seem worried. Maybe that’s because she’s endured so much worse at the hands of a paternalistic society both in her native country and her new home. Maybe it’s because of the unfathomable danger of her trip to America. Or maybe it’s because the stakes are just too high right now for her not to show up.”
The “Girls” creator and star said that the way that her friend showed up to march without question was a reminder that “feminists have always been emboldened by immigration women.”
Dunham consequently dug into her own personal history, telling readers about her great grandmother (who she is named after), who immigrated from Russia in 1900 and who gave birth to eight children in a one-room apartment in Brooklyn.
“I understand now that behind whatever sweetness described there must have been a steely, impossible-to-comprehend strength- what else drives a young woman away from everything and everyone she knows, carries her to a new land, allows her to bear the weight of life and death and endless Challah burns?” wrote Dunham.
During her teenage years, Dunham wrote, she didn’t really honor her great grandmother, but on International Women’s Day, she will try to.
“Not just in the small ways, like trying to channel Grandma Lena on that boat and not whine about motion sickness in the back of a Lyft,” she wrote. “But in big ways, too like bearing life’s trials and tribulations- physical and emotional- with as much elegance as I can muster. By taking action against silent injustice. By trying my darnedest to feed those I love- if not with my own hands the. with love, patience, compassion and takeout.”
At the end of her essay, Dunham encouraged readers to use today to “consider acts of courage great and small by immigrant women, and to commit to fighting with and for them.”