“Who’d want to do a crappy job like that?” asked a guy at the periphery of the group I found myself in at a bar in downtown Chicago. “An immigrant, maybe?”
Up to that point I hadn’t spoken, so no one realized I’d been born overseas.
“An immigrant?” I said. “What, like me?”
For the next few minutes confusion reigned, and during that time I realized that to many people the word ‘immigrant’ wasn’t a noun. It was an insult. It was cover for a kind of quiet, insidious racism.
For the next few years I pushed back against attitudes like that whenever I encountered them. My efforts were on a personal level but I hoped they might make a difference, albeit on a small scale. Then, last year, the stakes were raised.
A front-running candidate in the race for his party’s presidential nomination started to use his platform to demonize immigrants – or at least those who were easily recognizable as such.
He lied about them in general terms, calling them murderers and rapists. He lied about them in specific terms, falsely claiming that individuals were guilty of murder.
Somehow, this man made into the highest office in the land. Which means it’s time to push back harder. To resist the lies more strenuously. To stand together resolutely against all forms of prejudice. Because it doesn’t matter where we’re from, or which race or religion we belong to. Either we’re all treated with respect, or none of us are.