OPINION – What happens when you feed off the fear of others? Do your commitments change once you put inciting fear at the forefront? I would think so.
After much media display of Trump’s influence on immigration policies, there’s an even smaller amount of discussion on what the dinner-table talk sounds like in an immigrant family’s home. There has been a disconnect, an airy feel to the current political situation, stemming from the disbelief that someone so against valuing the life of those raised with a different global perspective than him is in power, thriving and accomplishing goals of putting hate at the top of the political agenda. Families have withdrawn into themselves in the hope that this wave will pass, and that the reassurance that they belong will comeback with the election of another candidate. But in reality, we’ve been living in a mirage. Under the Obama administration there was a false sense of security, devised by the long-standing idea that racism, sexism, homophobia, and history can be erased overnight; as well as the thought that pain caused by policy and history is ephemeral and not tied to conditioning in behavior. Deep rooted alienation of any kind is not erased with the passing of one policy, one election, or one speech. There is a sincere tie to history and this administration. And not enough people are talking about it.
There is no diminishing of the grandness of the accomplishments of the first Black President of the United States. But there is a distinction in thinking that a problem is fixed and acknowledging a catapult into a new era. A catapult, only an instant in the scheme of things, is meant to propel more change, in higher rates than before. But what happens when this catapult of “newness” breaks ground but fails to unearth the power that a malignant few have held over the masses and only accomplishes to mask its history? What happens when a band aid is put over the oppression that no one can pinpoint the exact origin of? The Trump administration happens. A wave of hatred that is a direct result of the glue of the band aid wearing away through the short-term change that comes from the catapult. We can’t seem to pinpoint the moment it started for it has been present since the beginning of time and has been perpetuated every time a culture names itself as the dominant one. With the Trump Administration, the sensationalist wave of hatred has diminished the work of the Obama administration, and has set us back years of work by people who are correct in acknowledging that a future that is good for everyone, every race, ethnicity, and nationality, is the future we should be striving towards. Though the catapult’s effect has diminished, we must keep the same energy that the Obama administration sparked and try to dispel the hatred that this administration is propelling forward.
Now to put this dismal change into perspective, we have to see what everyday life is like now for an immigrant, and immediate descendants of those in Trump’s America. During a time where no place is home, where the country you chose to find economic refuge doesn’t accept you, and the country you left brings no comfort, dinner table talk morphs from the future and its prospects to a constant question of where do you go from here, and can this be undone? What can one do about legislation and policies being passed that are a clear indication that you do not belong, if they are grounded in the core of the country with dual interest? Dual because it stands for freedom and independence from tyranny, but then again practices tyranny against those it does not see worthy of dignity and colonizes minds and bodies of those “weaker” than them. The dinner gets cold and so does the atmosphere. Am I not worthy of respect from my government? My home cooked meal becomes an anomaly, a small nudge at the “culture” that is set in place, a nudge that is met crudely with a closed door.
As an immigrant myself, I can tell you about the surreal and mirage-like life one can live when looking at the political climate we are in. Along with my mother and my family, we’ve had to navigate with more caution our roles at work, school, and leisure. Now you can’t know how the type of views those outside your life have, which might cause them to react to the very fact that yours does not mirror theirs. People have become ignorant of the other’s struggle and how others seem to dissolve, if at all, into this new country we call home. This leads to hostile environments between immigrants and non-immigrants, even within the immigrant community. So now that this nationalist movement is severing our connections to each other, it is even more important to have diversity in the voices representing us, to keep us unified under a more complex umbrella of what the immigrant community is. So, try your best to keep that dinner table talk aimed towards the future, and get involved in political activities of candidates that maintain the ideals of having an affable and comfortable future in the country that was founded on immigration.
By: Ambar Paredes
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