Aren’t We All Immigrants?

By: Sneha

This question, especially asked as a child, brought forth some odd level of discomfort. Whether it was at school or to a relative, no one wanted to give me a straight, simple answer.  Why?

Born and raised in Texas, I continuously face the follow-up question: “no, where are you, like from?”  Uh, America?  Then the interrogation deepens into my family tree.  So, my question was/is, aren’t we all immigrants…at least by extension, unless your ancestors were Native Americans course.

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As a child, it was simple: Native Americans were here first, they welcomed/or were invaded by foreigners and then after stealing their land, ousting them from what was rightfully theirs, taking what was needed, denying them citizenship for years, insulting their beliefs and way of life were just a few of the ways their nightmare was created.  I digress, that’s for another post.

Long after learning about Columbus and the “finding” of America, I always had an interest in the lives and history of Native Americans.  People came to this land long after Native Americans had settled here and it was these people, our ancestors who can be traced back for generations.  These ancestors of ours are, by definition, immigrants. So, by extension aren’t we all immigrants too?  I can hear some of yall, born in America, therefore a “pure-blood” (thanks J.K. Rowling).  As one myself, I completely agree, but my point is, whether the initial arrival to America was by force or right, our families settled here leading to future generations, extensions.

Now I fast forward.  Most Native Americans continue to struggle to hold onto what was rightfully theirs and are forced to tirelessly fight to preserve their history, traditions and heritage.   We obviously are not the ones who initiated this oust and division, but observing our historical actions compared to the recent events, aren’t we all partly to blame?  Not only for the division but the dire lack of acceptance now bleeding into other races, ethnicity and cultures?  Whether an immigrant arrived on the Mayflower, thru Ellis Island, or by Visa, they all came to this country with hope.  Every immigrant had dreams to live a better life, to give their children an opportunity for a bright and successful future.  We all are descendants of immigrants and are beyond fortunate to be a part of the diverse, welcoming country everyone aspires to be a part of.  That is until now.

2017 has already been historical, and not in the notable kind.  We now face being a part of a country that is and will be forever mocked, excluded and minimized in power, intellect and status.  There are a lot of issues causing concern, but with the latest regarding immigration laws has me lit in fury.

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I won’t bore you with history, the constitution and statistics because we all studied it in school, but lets discuss this based on one thing, common sense.  What is right?  What is fair?  Who dares to think they, he, is far better and superior than the rest?  And to execute a solid ban based on random hate will not only fuel rebellion but break our country’s unity.  We were and are a country founded upon diversity where immigrants aspired to be a part of a land that offered endless opportunities and freedom (also pending for another post).  Now, that very country, who’s doors were open to all, has not only slammed that opportunity but has done so based on childish fears, rash decisions, and hate.

I grew up thinking that being an American was an honor.  To be a part of a country that others flee to for opportunity and freedom;  to be a part of a country where one can achieve anything, dream without measure; a country full of potential, not because of its orthodox ideas but because of its diversity in culture and intelligence.

One bad apple doesn’t mean you trash the entire crate.  One dead branch doesn’t mean you cut down the entire tree.  One bad act doesn’t criminalize the entire neighborhood.  So why are we allowing the same ridiculous thought pattern rule our way of thinking?

Far be it for me to lecture, becuase I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment where I was blessed with opportunities to flourish without hate and war. However, it frightens me everyday to see the potential in our youngest generation be ignored, wasted, discouraged and worse, banned.  The very foundation this country found its greatness is not only shaken but the crack is growing wider and deeper everyday.  How do we stop it?  How do we mend it?  I wish I had an answer.

* If you need some inspiration and hope, you can borrow the song going thru my head while I wrote this: We are the world

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