I didn't go to the Women's March yesterday. Long before we knew a march would be happening, I had arranged to do a tour with my daughter's Lego team, which I coach. When I learned of the march, it was too late to reschedule the tour, so no march for me.
I was sorry I couldn't be there. It is easy to read the news coming from Washington and feel despair. When I read the news about immigration policy, in particular, I get that feeling I've described before, of alienation from my own country. It was particularly acute in the last couple of months, because we were waiting for my husband's new green card to arrive. It was months late, and while we had no reason to think the delay was connected to all of the conflict about immigration that has been in the air these days, it was hard not to connect the two things in my own mind. (I'm actually 99% certain the delay was just usual overworked bureaucracy stuff... but my irrational fears had other ideas.)
Friday, his green card finally came, which was a relief. But I couldn't help comparing the relief I felt about the resolution of an irrational worry to the ongoing and much more rational anxiety the DREAMers and the people losing their temporary protected status must be feeling. We are treating these people with so little respect, it makes me want to weep. I can accept disagreeing with my government on the right way to resolve their immigration status, but I cannot accept my government treating them and their dreams as worthless. I cannot accept our disregard for their humanity and callousness about the consequences of sending people back to countries they barely know. I cannot accept they way they are being used a political hostages, in a negotiation in which one side doesn't even seem to have a coherent statement of what they want, except for maybe "fewer brown people in America."
I wrote in Friday's links post that I feel like the mask has been ripped away from many of the immigration arguments, and the ugly racism is now out in the open. I'm not surprised, really, by the way some (who aren't even Iowa Rep. King) are now fairly open in implying that they want America to be a majority white country and that they don't see my friends who are not white as equally American. But I am still shocked by it, on a visceral level.
I grew up knowing that there were latino families in my state and neighboring states that had been on the land we all shared for far longer than my family had. There are latino families in New Mexico that have been on that land since before it was America, and I was taught that in school, even in my conservative corner of conservative Arizona. I went to school with Native American kids whose connection to the little patch of land we were all occupying was far, far deeper than mine was. It is shocking to hear my supposed leaders imply that those people are less American than me. I outright reject that notion, and am offended by it.
Now I live in a majority minority city, in a majority minority state. I think of my friends and my kids' friends, whose heritage stretches back to so many different countries: Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, China. I think of our Black friends whose chance to trace their heritage to a specific country was stolen from them along with their ancestors' freedom. We have friends who have become naturalized citizens recently, and friends whose ancestors came over around the same time as mine did, if not before. They are all just as American as I am, and I am deeply offended by any suggestion that they are not.
And yet, here we are. Selfishly, I wanted to go to the Women's March to be reminded that my version of America's future is still possible, and there are still people fighting for it. I did not get that chance, but I was encouraged by all the pictures I saw of large marches around the country. That will have to suffice. Last week, I bought a roll of postcard stamps. I'm ready to keep writing. Maybe there will be another chance to keep marching. No matter what, I'll keep fighting.