Let me begin by putting this out there – I have racist family members.
Family members who are first generation in America, yet think they are superior because they were born here and forgetting their parents came from other places (not so legally). I have another set of family members that have been here for generations, but were taught that they’re superior.
My first best friend as a child was Yomira. She had brown hair and brown eyes just like me. We both had the same complexion. She taught me some Spanish words so I could better communicate with her mom when I called and went over to play. My mom never questioned where Yomira lived, because her mother kept a close eye on us. I had no idea that Yomira lived in the ‘projects’. I knew she had a home that she helped keep clean and had dinner every night like my family.
My mom made sure that I knew I was never better than anyone else. We’re all on this earth together and we all feel, we all have problems, we all have successes, and we all came from the same Creator. We are all loved no matter what mistakes were made, we all have another chance to do better.
Fast forward to my later years in high school and I experienced what it was like to be the minority: female and white. It was the best experience I didn’t know I needed. During certain class conversations my classmates and I became very real with one another and broke down stereotypes and barriers. It was understood we all have problems, we all have those family members, and we all wanted to feel accepted and loved by our peers.
In high school I was the token white girl for a long time in my friend group. I then became the token American later on.
My mom taught me that love doesn’t know a race or a color. I watched my mom love and support all of my friends. I watched my mom provide a certain love only a mom can provide to friends who didn’t have a mom around. Such examples and experiences teach us how to treat other people and how delicate and hard the human heart can be.
Despite what other family members taught my mom, and what I heard them say/do, I saw how my mom resisted their ways and did what she knows is right. My mother taught me this ever since I was a child. When they say that racism and prejudice is taught, it’s true. Because if I chose to listen to other family members then I would have been taught how to be racist. But receiving love and kindness from my mother and watching her express the same to others, no matter their color or background, is what taught me to do the same.
The America I know is made up of beautiful people from all over the world. Beautiful people who also know how to love others no matter where they’re from.
The America I grew up in taught me that people from all over the world come here because they know we’re a great country and provide amazing opportunities. I grew up having multicultural celebrations with friends and their families.
The America I know welcomed people who were escaping atrocities in a country they thought was their home.
The America I see now breaks my heart. We need to look in the mirror to see what has become of this country. This isn’t the America I grew up learning to be an amazing place of opportunity or the America that fought to diminish groups who believed they’re superior. We’re becoming a place where it’s hard for legitimate Americans to find opportunity because of their beliefs or lifestyle.
I pray that my actions and words are an example. I want those who fear walking down the same street they’ve walked down their whole life to know I’m on their side and fighting for them.