It feels like a dirty secret that I have to harbor, the fact that my parents are immigrants. It’s tucked away deep into the recesses of my heart, right along side the hard work and pain that they have gone through to get me where I am today. See, America was built by the labor of their strong hands and the love from their big hearts, but no one else seems to understand that. No one seems to see that the railroads they ride on, the buildings they work in, the bridges they cross, and the food that they eat are all easily accessible to them because an immigrant made them. Because an immigrant poured their blood, sweat, and tears into this earth to only receive nothing in return. And when I look into my mothers eyes, and see the past reflected back to me, it hurts to know that no one values the gold in her soul the way I do and that they look at the worn hands and tired face, and don’t know that all she has ever done, is for me.
My family comes from a country where nothing is handed to you. Where you work, and you have to work hard as hell to get what you have. But everyone else assumes that they are just someone who has no education, someone who can’t even speak proper English, someone who was blindly chasing after the American Dream. Perhaps they aren’t that far off from the truth though. No, my parents don’t have college degrees and yes, they speak with an accent. But they have done nothing but work for this country since the day they laid their bare feet on its soil to provide for their families. Does this make them any less worthy to be here? Does this mean that children who are suffering, don’t have the right to escape?
DACA is important to me, a full blooded American citizen with too much privilege, it’s important to me because everyone deserves the opportunity to be and do something great with their lives. Everyone deserves to flee from a country that doesn’t support them, that doesn’t believe in them, that doesn’t value them. It is unacceptable to think that some children, will be forced to go to a country that they do not even know, with people they don’t know and a language they don’t understand. How is that fair? How is that okay? Since when does America only belong to those who stole it in the first place?
Most days, people will stop and stare. As if I’m some exotic animal that decided to run free from the Zoo. “Wow! Where are you from?” Because my appearance screams that I don’t belong here, how can I?
“Okay, so then what are you?” As if the response, American, is too unbelievable that I must be lying.
“So, that’s in Africa right?” I can see your education system is clearly not slacking in the slightest, you must be so much smarter than me. Of course you are! You went to a private school and I went to a public school.
“Is English your first language?” Oh my, am I mispronouncing the name “Greg” or “Sarah”, I deeply apologize! I didn’t know. My moms’ accent must be rubbing off on me.
Immigrants are not aliens and they are not strangers. They are your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and more. And for me? They are my family. My mother, who came to this country when she was 14 years old with an F1 VISA before DACA existed, with no money and no mother of her own. My aunts, who worked (and still work) long hours on end to help raise her. My babysitters, who raised me and taught me English and Spanish. My friends, who are from all over this beautiful world and still love and care for me and one another as if we were all painted purple and had hearts for eyes.
The truth is: I used to be ashamed of my heritage. Because I never fit in with the other kids. My hair was so long it got stuck on the chairs and my clothes smelled like curry sometimes. I didn’t want to take food from home to school, in fear that everyone would be disgusted by the scent. I slowly began to see the truth as I got older though. I have culture and others are afraid of what they do not know. I have something that makes me different, and that is beyond special.
And now? I am a proud Guyanese, and yes, I was born in this country. Yes, my passport says I’m American. But what does that really mean? I’m not too sure because most days I feel like I’m not even welcomed here. I fail to understand the red, white, and blue mentality when others seem to fail to understand that yellow, brown, and black are American colors too. We should be supporting and uplifting each other, not tearing the nation apart. We are all DREAMERS, and there should never be a limit on shooting for the stars.
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