Pennsylvania Latinos work to turn huge population gains into political muscle, but still face barriers
By Kate Huangpu of Spotlight PA
Zubair Babakarkhail at an overlook on Mount Washington with his children, from left, Ahmad, Javeria, and Khadija, on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. On their second day in Pittsburgh, the children want to see tall buildings and some views of the city. Mount Washington claims the highest elevation in Pittsburgh and offers sweeping views of the city.
Our Afghan friend and journalist Zubair Babakarkhail arrived in Pittsburgh this weekend with his family, capping off a months-long odyssey from his troubled and violent homeland to the relatively serene rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania.
Postindustrial, along with other friends, supported Zubair’s escape from his homeland — a harrowing journey through Taliban checkpoints and frenzied mobs outside the Kabul airport to the Pittsburgh suburbs, where Zubair and his family are staying until they find a more permanent home in the region.
On their first full day in Pittsburgh, our newly arrived Afghan friends wanted to take in the sights despite the frigid rain that blanketed the city this past weekend, riding the world-famous Incline and enjoying the drizzly view from Mount Washington.
Zubair is keen to see more of Pittsburgh and Postindustrial America, and in the coming months, he’ll tell more stories of his and other new arrivals’ struggles in Postindustrial America. We look forward to sharing more of his stories and those of other Afghans who fled persecution and tyranny at home for a chance at a better life here.
We’re also making a movie about Zubair’s arrival and transition to life in PI America. We started working on it the moment he and his family got off the plane, so we were on the lookout for selected scenes and the eventual release of a full-length film.
Zubair with his daughter, Javeria, as the family unpacked following their arrival to Pittsburgh from Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin. The military base is the size of a small city, with about 13,000 Afghans living there temporarily after they fled the Taliban regime in August.
Javeria flops down on the bed as the family unpacked this weekend, arriving in Pittsburgh from Fort McCoy, Wis.
Starting off in America means shopping for some basics. Here, Javeria takes the cart at Target in Robinson on Sunday, Nov. 14.
So keep checking back: You’ll hear more from Zubair soon, as he, his wife Fatima, and their three children get to know their adopted city and nation.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, Babakarkhails.
The region is a better place now that you’re here.
Zubair Babakarkhail at an overlook in Pittsburgh's Mount Washington neighborhood, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. He and his family chose to settle in Pittsburgh, after fleeing from their homeland of Afghanistan in August. As a journalist, his life was endangered under the Taliban regime.
Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan.
Kimberly Palmiero is CEO and editor-in-chief of Postindustrial Media. Prior to Postindustrial, she provided consulting for media outlets to develop growth strategies. She is a longtime writer, managing editor, and small business owner. Kim is also a past president and current board member of the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, a 501c3.
Justin Merriman is a freelance photojournalist who has traveled the world to cover politics, wars, natural disasters, civil unrest as well as covering assignments throughout the United States. His work has appeared in leading national publications and he has received multiple top journalism awards. Justin is a founding member of American Reportage.
By Kate Huangpu of Spotlight PA
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