A couple of years ago my husband and I had our genome mapped through 23andme.com. I have to say I was surprised to find out what my genes said about me (and my ethnic makeup). While I knew that I had mostly Scots-Irish ancestors based on my grandmother’s genealogy quest in the late sixties, I didn’t know much more than that.
What I found out is that I am a mutt, a Heinz 57, if you will. My genetic makeup includes sub-Saharan African ancestry, Native American ancestry, Asian ancestry, and European ancestry including 2.6% Neanderthal. In other words, I am a human being with parts from across the globe. I don’t know how all these parts came to be. I don’t know all the pieces to my genetic puzzle; I just know that based on my genetic results, I am black, brown, red, yellow, and white.
I am a United States citizen because I was born here. It’s as simple as that…for me, that is. Yet, somewhere in the past, I had ancestors who weren’t born here, who came here as immigrants and became citizens. So, by extension, I am an immigrant, too.
The question is: based upon my definition above, how many people in the United States can claim that they are not immigrants? If one is 100% Native American, then yes, that may be the exception. Otherwise, most of us are immigrants even if we haven’t had our genome mapped or genealogy checked out.
The United States was a country founded on immigrants. Many of the immigrants came here because of religious persecution. Others came for other reasons. Some came, not of their own volition, but because they were enslaved. Whatever the reason, people came to these shores and found a new home. Some could only speak their own language when they first got here, but usually in a short amount of time, they were assimilated.
Because we are a nation of immigrants, we should be willing to take a chance on people who are just like us, that is immigrants, no matter their race, creed, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. Except now, many people are being denied the opportunity to come to this country. Our borders are being sealed off and fear and lies are being spread by our leaders. It is a scary time for all…for those who would love to come here and can’t; for those who have family both here and there; for those who have lived here all their lives, but see discrimination for those who may be different from us. (Or not so different.)
I am saddened and depressed by the vitriolic rhetoric and executive orders that are being signed that affect so many. It’s like a bad dream, and it is hard to believe this is the United States. That it has become this reality of targeting ethnic groups, targeting nationalities, targeting religions, and targeting anyone who is different. I can’t be silent about this. Who will be next? Will it be you?
I am an immigrant. Are you?