Remember when I wrote this post and I said I would be back with more? Well, today is the day.
Immigration has been in the news so much. I have ruined many a night’s sleep reading the news about it. I have studied it. I have read about it. I have read the news. I have let it into my heart and soul. It is academic and personal for me.
One book I would highly recommend is The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen. This book is a compilation of essays written by refugees (one of many classifications of immigrant under the USA code). Every essay will make you think, some will break your heart, all will change you if you let them. I have one, The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri that comes back to me over and over.
Dina Nayeri was born in Iran. Her family left there when she was 6. The returned after a short time in London, England, but left permanently when she was 9. Her family was accepted as refugees by America when she was 10 and ended up in Oklahoma. What followed was mockery by kids who didn’t know where Iran was, then corrected mockery when the kids found out where Iran was, and a good dose of “you must be so grateful” from local do-gooders.
She spent her life and watched many other immigrants, spending their lives proving they were worthy of the fact they were allowed into the United States of America, when so many others were not.
So many others, 1/2 of 1% of those in refugee camps ever make it to a country for permanent resettlement. That number is staggering in how small it is. Families that are resettled leave behind family and friends who are still living in a world of destitution. They know how “lucky” they are–they sure as hell don’t need us to tell them to be grateful.
Would you want someone asking you, or even just implying, if you are grateful enough to be born here? People sometimes do that. It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? It puts us in an awkward position; we don’t know how to respond or act when faced with that type of communication. It stinks.
So why do we do that to others? Why do we infer they should do something to make America better, to improve this place we call home?
People are people. They are not valuable because of what they do. They are valuable because they are, plain and simple.