I believe it is time for an open and honest conversation about two damaging and demeaning realities: racism and xenophobia. Racist and xenophobic tweets emanating from the White House, and targeted at those with whom our president disagrees, contribute nothing positive to the conversation.
I am a second-generation American. My father was an immigrant; my mother was born of immigrant parents. Do I always agree with everything we do; embrace every policy enacted by Congress or espoused by the president; believe every person is given a fair chance to do and become the best they can? Of course, I don’t.
Do I believe there is room for improvement; that we can rise above the shouting and name-calling; that justice and fairness for every individual is possible; that we can embrace the stranger and outsider with the same respect and compassion we have for members of our own families, neighbors, acquaintances, and even those with whom we may disagree? Of course, I do.
I cherish the freedoms we have as Americans. One of those, as I am often reminded, is “if you don’t like it here, you’re free to go somewhere else.” How sad.
Let’s suppose I did return to the country of my ancestors. What would be gained? Would that make life here better? Or would I forfeit the opportunity to work “to form a more perfect union”, as our Constitution declares?
What makes this country great is its diversity. We have come from many places and seized opportunities to build a unique nation. We can be proud of our achievements and we can continue down that path. Yet, I believe we also need to be honest about our failures and find ways to engage in constructive conversations that confront head-on all too prevalent expressions of racism and xenophobia.