Last month, my heart crumbled.
I attended a workshop on book publishing. Surrounded by authors, the group of men and women in attendance were absolutely fascinating, and it was a pleasure to share the day with them.
Immigrating to America
At the end of the day, I was talking with a fascinating woman who is writing story about immigrating with her husband to, our great country, America. Since my daughter just finished her immigration and genealogy school project featuring our families, I was extremely intrigued to hear more about her experience. I had never specifically spoken with anyone about their personal experience and how they have formed their life in America. So I was extremely enthusiastic to speak with this woman.
I’m not familiar at all with the process of immigration. My daughter’s project was so fun, which made this conversation that much more meaningful and enjoyable. I was very excited to be actually talking to this author about her life over recent decades and not about our ancestors.
She shared with me that she and her husband have built successful ice cream shops in the south suburbs. I asked her how many children she has and confirmed that she was the first generation here to immigrate. I asked if her children were then first born citizens. I asked this question purely to have a visual of how this incredible experience happens.
As I stood there, I found myself in awe of this powerful, successful, kind, passionate and caring woman who stood before me as a woman of strength, perseverance and fortitude. She worked so hard to get here and even harder to establish a successful life and a legacy for her family.
As a natural born writer and interviewer, I ask questions, and I go deep. It’s my way of connecting with people, and it always gets my heart. I walk away richer and more fulfilled every time.
Was that fear?
As I asked questions with enthusiasm, I noticed the shift in her eyes. Was that fear I saw? I was perplexed. She said to me, “I am legal. ”
My jaw dropped. And my heart fractured into a million pieces. It is incomprehensible to me to think, that an incredible conversation of pure interest turned into something she had to fear because her internal guard told her I was questioning her legal status as a US citizen. It is neither my priority, nor my interest to question people’s status. I felt that my freedoms of pure curiosity, non-judgmental practices, and connection to another human being were being questioned and now needed to be guarded. That is no comparison to her feelings. She felt her freedoms of American citizenship, safety and hard work were at risk.
I was heartbroken. Ashamed. Perplexed. Furious. Hopeless. Sad. Our founding fathers built this country as the melting pot where people yearned to come to America because of our freedoms, because of what our military fights for, for protection, for shelter, for new life, for opportunity. I understand the ramifications and the loss we have because people come here illegally. However, there are so many more people who have come here for a better life, safety, security, and to better their lives. As a result, they better America with culture, diversity, opportunity, values, morals, work ethic, and family.
With the devastating recent shift of our country, she is one of many in this situation of protecting her status, her dignity, her past, present and future. And that breaks my heart. If our melting pot can no longer feel that we are a land of freedoms, opportunity, safety, security, and family, America is no longer home.
I explained to her that I am not interested in her status, it is not my priority, it was not my intention. I said, “This is your home.” We hugged a long time, and I held back my tears because what I really wanted to do was collapse in her arms in sadness of deep sorrow for her insecurities, her fears, the question of her future, past, present that she and her husband and her family worked so hard to achieve.
I’m not sure where to go with this or what to do with it. I just knew I had to share it as a mark of significant and sorrowful change. And I know there’s so much more out there for all races and orientations. I feel it in my heart, on my shoulders and in my soul. Since I was a child, I have wondered why? We are all human, we bleed red, we put our pants on one leg at a time. We are the same. There is good and bad in every segment of society. No one segment is better than another.
Guard Love. Reject Hate.
My heroes are, and always have been, those who fight for civil rights, equality, humanity, decency… MLK, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln, Gloria Steinem, Ellen DeGeneres, Betty Friedan, so many more – those who make lives better for others. They are heroes. They make America great.
If anyone is reading this, I just want people in America to know, Americans are not all in alignment. I will stand and march and fight for whatever we need to do to in order to guard love and reject hate. You are welcome to join me, if you wish.
And when I witness, God forbid, hate, I will stand with my arms crossed over my heart in an ‘X’ to guard love and reject hate. Life is too short and too hard as it is. Humanity and America deserve more. There is no place for hate in my life, in my world and definitely not in my America.