In midst of all the political, religious and corporate posturing in recent months and years regarding immigration I felt the need to write again about our collective need to adhere to the idea of America. When some are quicker to come to support a proposition than people and there’s a debate for which one you should advocate, something has gone wrong in the land of liberty.
The influx of immigrants and political or religious refugee populations seems to have increased each year. Populations that are represented by not only people from Latin America, but also Chinese, Cambodians, Laotians, Arabs, Somalians and the Kurdish to name a few. Not only do these populations routinely experience racial and cultural discrimination, but routinely experience religious intolerance, bigotry and alienation.
No longer is it only a Black & White society, but a multicultural society. Cultural ignorance, ethnic bigotry, unconscious discrimination and our implicit biases towards one another is no longer acceptable. We must consider others beyond our own understanding and social experiences for one that yields to learning before teaching.
Within the borders of the United States the racial and cultural demographics continue to change towards a more inclusive and diverse ways. This reality brings forth the need for better understanding of cultures that are different than yours.
Throughout the history of the United States we learned by our collective experiences of how difficult it is for some people and communities to accept other cultures with the same measure of acceptance as they offer their own. Through intense and difficult struggles come our opportunities for accepting people that appear to be different than you.
The ideal image of what is American is not the same for us all. Those who we have labeled as immigrants are fearful when entering this country. What is lost upon the thought process and reporting on immigration is the fact that we are speaking about people as if they were not human. This must end if we are to adhere to the idea of America.
We all must keep in mind that we all are encountering a culture that is different than our own. Excuse the apprehension for the opportunity for cultural comprehension. The best way to overcome the unknown begins with a smile, a considerate conversation or a demonstration of respect.
Speaking from the perspective of lifelong personal experiences, I can say that it is an absolute honor to have friends of multiple races, creeds, nationalities and religious beliefs and non-beliefs. You gain a spectacular view of the world when you can see it from more perspectives than you own.
When we consider all that diversity has to offer, why would you want anything else?
The beauty and ugliness of this country along with the world simply is found within the actions of its people. Often it is misrepresented by those who believe they are the only or best example of what we are. Their promotion of propositions, ordinances and legislation that essentially supports a form of sophisticated segregation does not agree with what the founders of this country put on paper.
The support of English-Only initiatives, debate over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Anti-Islam rhetoric and actions, the Arizona Immigration Law along with the usual implicit racial bias towards President Obama, the Jewish Community, Blacks, Hispanic, Asian and those who are bi-racial or in an interracial relationship all sends an ugly and unwelcoming message that tells them they do not belong here.
Just like the signs of segregation that hung with prominence throughout the South decades ago and the political polarization today by unnamed parties, the message remains the same; you don’t belong here.
I’m suggesting that we seek to begin a dialogue of understanding, consideration and mutual respect of one another. We know there are differences that some may not be aware of or accustom to, but respect has no boundaries and consideration is has no limits.
Consider how you would feel in such a situation?
The world is not made up of only what you are. You are only a piece of the puzzle that makes up such a society, so become a better neighbor. If or when you unconsciously say something stupid or even racist, a simple apology to express that you are unfamiliar with the culture will usually can carry you further than staunch conservatism. I say conservatism is not meant in political terms, but as being defined as an unmovable or demonstrating unwillingness towards change.
When you encounter the individual who sees you for what you are more than who you are, do not waste much energy trying to prove them wrong. Often their mind is made up in such a way no one can shed light on what is dark to them. Simply allow time and history is their teacher for it delivers a message that they can not deny as much as they may try.
Now is the time to move on. Let those who desire for days that has long past remain planted there. No one will will say that we never tried. We must plant the seeds that makes of this old world a new world.