Throughout the month I don’t think I’ve written anything that I had originally planned to. Given that this just gives me more time and topics to choose from for March, I’m actually kind of okay with that. The negative side of that coin being what’s prompting some of my turn arounds: politics. Whether I like it or not, a lot of the things I say and do are considered political because wanting a better future for myself and others doesn’t always mesh well with what America’s traditionally done. Today I want to tell you one of the more boring immigration stories out there, my mothers (and by extension her family). I say boring because it’s not full of sneaking out in the middle of the night intrigue and my mother tends to downplay it so I can only give you what she gave me. I still consider it worth mentioning and important, essentially because it’s not dramatic, since I know that there are probably more stories like this than we think.
My mom was born in Barbados and was the youngest of four. Her father was the kind of man who always had a plan/ money making idea, none of which ever really panned out. When he decided he wanted to come to America everybody came along. My mom was five and the year was 1968. According to her a lot of people thought my grandma looked like Coretta Scott King which was awkward because they’d arrived in the U.S a few days after his assassination (that’s actually kind of fascinating, but like I said she downplays things). In any case when they first got here they had accents which many kids at her school found unusual, but they lived in a community with several other immigrants and no one really knew where Barbados was so eventually she blended, and currently no one on her side of the family who came here then really speaks with an accent.
Hence why no one really thinks to question my mom’s status as an American (this is part of where I’m going with this). Moving on, because this isn’t meant to be my mothers biography I’m going to fast forward a bit and give you the highlights. My mom has a masters degree in psychology. I believe she met my dad in grad school. They lived in New York for a while until a few years before I was born. They then high tailed it down to Jersey where my Mom’s sister and husband where also heading to. My mom stopped working full time when I was little but still did part time work and was active in the community. Eventually my sister came along, then my parents divorce happened, and now my mom’s back to work and has got a boyfriend.
I’ll get into more detail about the work she did in the community next week, because it’s part of my black history month spiel, but for now I’ll get back to my point. Unless you asked my mom straight out if she was born here, chances are you wouldn’t think she wasn’t. She’s well educated, has a family, and had to go through an annoying arduous process for citizenship. That’s not to say stories of triumph and being the first to graduate in your family aren’t important and valid, they are, I’m just telling you what I’ve got. In fact with my bachelors degree I actually have less education than my mother, but c’est la vie (‘such is life’ for you non-french speaking folk).
I say all this, to reiterate an earlier anecdote to remind everyone that not all immigrant stories are the same, nor are they head line worthy. You don’t know who’s first, second, or even third generation in this country just by looking at them. To target any group in it’s entirety is not just. That’s not up for debate, Muslim people belong here. I’m very proud of all the people, including my cousin, who marched at the air ports and made it known that they will not stand for the ban. Particularly since everyone likes to forget that Natives were here first and that their land was stolen from them by our government. For that government to now decide who stays and who goes is a complete ethical and moral travesty. Keep protesting that, and keep sharing your stories. They matter. You matter. See you Friday ✊🏽