So I am lucky. Lucky to be born in America, to have the parents I do. So there’s a chance that you reading this are lucky as well. And there’s a chance that you didn’t start out so lucky, that you built your way up to this, clean water, food, a higher standard of living. All this that a percentage of our global population, millions, do not have.
I am not trying to collectively guilt everyone in a first world country. I am trying to remind us that there is more to life, more beyond the next freeway or Starbucks. Make us all aware of our privilege.
Here’s a thing to remember: the Muslim ban. Refugee ban. Extreme vetting. Whatever your choice term. The fact that that executive order exists is not a surprise. This culture started a long time ago, this culture of distrust, of labeling ourselves against this ‘other’, reacting to pigmentation of skin or dyes on fabric to determine a person’s worth rather than the way a person’s words color the space around them.
This order is a thing of social culture, one that is possible to change. In my opinion, the best way to start changing culture in humanization. Make ourselves know that these refugees, these homeless, these ‘others’, they are the same human race as the rest of us.
My earliest memory of this was when I was 13, in Portland, Oregon with my mom. We had gone to the famous “Voodoo donuts” shop, and a homeless man was sitting near the entrance with his dog. As a child, I was wary of this man, he seemed dirty, possibly dangerous. I knew these thoughts weren’t right, but that didn’t stop the gut feeling. That was when my mom asked him what he wanted for breakfast. After some talking, he asked for an apple fritter and two milks. One of the milks, we later found out, was for the dog. We came upon him a few other times, always greeted with a friendly nod.
When I was in Washington for the women’s march the day after inauguration, my group took an Uber. Talking to the driver for a while uncovered a story: he had escaped from his country, under a dictatorial regime, and was on the path for American citizenship. He had left his wife and daughter. There, in front of us, was a man who had been through so much, driving us to our hotel.
At airports across the country, protests had broken out over the Muslim ban. I attended one of these. A woman walked up to one of the people holding a sign, and said thank you, on behalf of me and my daughter. I could not imagine what this woman had been though. The picture she took with us is below. I am glad I can share her, along with so many others, story.