Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The world in black and white: why the current immigration discussion saddens me
The current immigration issue is truly bothering me.
Our immigrant status (as a family) was quite some time ago. However, it was *NEVER* forgotten.
It was a Very Big Deal passed down from one generation to the next that our family was able to come here and find safety and opportunity.
We were raised on the idea that the US was made up of immigrants, and was the land of opportunity for them.
We were painted this picture of the US as a loving, nurturing adoptive mother. And that's what we believed it was, and how we felt about it.
We were to be grateful, appreciative, and respectful of the chance the US gave our immigrant foremothers and forefathers. And now, here, we were to extend a helping hand outward.
Further, it was to be irrespective of skin color.
My grandfather's father angered many because he included the Hispanic and AA workers (from his farm) at the main table in the house with the family. "If a man is good enough to work in my fields, he is good enough to sit at my table," was his motto. A man was to be judged by his character, not his color or his status. He never turned away a hungry mouth (this was during the Depression) and he taught his children, who taught their children, who taught me, the same.
They didn't have much, they weren't wealthy. But they were grateful for what they did have, and able to see that it was enough, and enough to help others in need.
Whatever else my family did wrong, this they did right.
I think in general, why the tone about the immigration issue bothers me---aside from the obvious surface issues---is that underneath it all is this unecessary greedy hoarding. Most of us here in the US have more than is necessary. And somehow the *having* is more important than the *helping.* Some people seem to be more afraid of losing what they have, than able to understand that we have enough to help.
I understand that there needs to be a process. Open borders---while nice to ponder in an idealized kind of way---aren't very realistic. And truth be told, resources are finite.
But I truly, truly wish that racism and xenophobia weren't such mitigating and motivating factors for so many in this discussion.
Then I read back through this and I see how it can read patronizing...even though I don't mean it that way. It's the unintentional privilege of being white. My great-grandfather got to be the nice man with the farm who could share his largesse.
It wasn't all easy peasy for my ancestors though, since I do descend from Native American too. I'll never forget my grandmother telling me how I lucky I was to be so white. She was very dark and she said, "At least you'll never have to know how hard it is to be so dark." She went on to make it personal, to mention how ashamed she was of her dark skin.
Imagine being taught to feel shame about your color.
And that, that right there, is why this entire immigration issue bothers me the most.
Link to MSNBC story about the May Day shopping boycott.
By Julie Pippert
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