While many have written essays, created art, recorded documentaries, et cetera, answering this question, I’ve never really tried to answer it myself. This weekend I was asked that question after a heated discussion about whether or not it’s divisive for grads to wear sashes that represent different racial/cultural/ethnic identities like the one below:
(For the record, I don’t think it’s divisive, but my thoughts on that deserve its own post.)
I’m not really going to answer the question today either. I don’t have the time or mental energy to do it justice. In the moment, I gave a trite answer, as a reflex, I blurted, “It’s a land of opportunity.” It was an answer given without any thought behind it. But after some reflection, I do believe that statement is true. There’s a lot more than that, of course, but it is part of how I view the country I was born in. From the first colonists to the refugees that are arriving at our borders today, people have been coming to these shores looking for a better life, new opportunities. However, what I have found is that those who might find ethnic pride accessories divisive, may not have reflected on or given thought to why it is that those first immigrants are seen as more legitimate, more acceptable, more worthy than others doing the exact same thing. Perhaps they’ve never taken a moment to see the perspective of those of us who have been “othered” our whole lives. The people I know and love that fall into this group are good-hearted and well-intentioned; they’ve just never had to question their place in America.
I have to get to work so I’ll leave it at that for now…