I couldn’t believe it as soon as I heard it.
I stood at the opening of the dressing room at Ross, waiting for my husband to come out and show me some of the dress slacks he was trying on. Right beside me was a hispanic couple–she had an armful of clothes and her husband was there to wait for her, just like me.
“Put the clothes on the rack first and I’ll give you a number,” the dressing room attendant said briskly.
The woman didn’t understand. She nodded, smiled politely, and kept the clothes in hand.
The dressing room attendant said it again, this time, pointing vigorously at the rack. Partially understanding, the woman draped her clothes on the rack, trying to obey what she was saying while obviously not speaking the language.
This set the attendant on edge. “No, use the hangers,” she said gruffly. And then to the other attendant, “I don’t have time for this.”
Spanish was an area of study for me throughout middle school and high school and it was my college minor where I also directed a Spanish newscast along with the English one so I quickly came to the woman’s side. I spoke to her in Spanish, letting her know what the attendant was talking about, and even helped her hang some of the blouses. All the while the attendant stood with crossed arms, rolling her eyes as the woman “held up the line”.
I couldn’t believe it. How could anyone be so ignorant?
And then it occurred to me–I shouldn’t be surprised.
We live in a country built upon the backs of immigrants. Heck, we ARE immigrants. We live in a country where diversity is the only reason we have the foods we do, the cultures we do, the inventions and the technology that we do–yet suddenly we have forgotten. Suddenly, a man like Donald Trump who is not only supportive, but VOCAL about his dislike of immigrants–is actually STILL in the race. How has he not been completely shut out? It’s because we’ve forgotten who we are. And ignorance is the most violent element in society.
“I don’t have time for this,” the attendant had said. And I think that’s what a million (probably more) people think. We don’t have time for the people who are here for the same reasons we are. And Donald Trump, again and again, has spoken out about his “ideal America”, and it does not seem to reflect what we actually are.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists…” he said.
No, Donald. Most of them are simply trying to try clothes on at the store without having you roll their eyes at them. They’re trying to work long hours to feed their family. They’re trying to learn YOUR language, which happens to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. They’re trying to live.
The short video clip below highlighting the moment where Trump kicks a Muslim woman out of one of his rallies speaks loud and clear:
And to me, the most disturbing part isn’t that a presidential candidate called out a woman wearing an hijab. The most disturbing part to me is that there are hundreds–maybe thousands– of supporters around him booing her and screaming at her and being strangely reminiscent of 1940’s nazi Germany.
The day we’ve forgotten where we’ve come from and the mistakes that led to mass genocide, hate, and digression is the day when we deteriorate as a country and kill ourselves all over again. It doesn’t matter that you might be a Christian. It doesn’t matter that you’re white and only speak English. It doesn’t matter that your idea of the American Dream is to live and work with those who look and sound just like you. It doesn’t matter that you “don’t have time” for immigrants.
Because what we really don’t have time for is selfishness.
Somewhere along the line your great-great-great grandmother came over from Ireland or Spain or any of the other countless countries. Somewhere along the line your ancestors didn’t speak a lick of English and had to work in factories to get ahead in this country. Somewhere along the line your blood was new to this country.
We can’t let a man like Donald Trump or anyone else for that matter make us forget that. We can’t let him forget that the reason he sits on his wealth and owns his fancy hotels is because somewhere along the line someone sacrificed for him to have the wonderful life he leads.
Standing behind a man who has those notions makes you selfish and blind to the reason we’re all here. It makes you forget we’re all simply–human.
I’m not making a political stance by saying that our borders should be wide open and that there should be no control. I’m not saying that protecting our nation and doing things the right way in regards to citizenship should be done away with. Obviously that would be catastrophic as well and balance needs to be struck. I don’t like even getting political because I feel like everyone has a right to their own opinion and their own vote. But this has to do with our brothers and sisters. The hate and the misunderstanding and the people who say “I don’t have time for you”–that needs to go. And we need to stand for it.
I don’t wish to live my life selfishly, only thinking about my skin and my voice and my ways of living. I don’t wish to live in a country where there is segregation–the kind of segregation that we worked so hard to overcome.
I don’t wish to stand behind a man who actually called for a “great wall” that would be “paid for by Mexico”.
Even Benjamin Franklin said of immigrants, “they contribute greatly to the improvement of a Country.”
And he is right. Our world, our country is a melting pot. How can we not speak up when we see our neighbors and our friends and our families being told to get out? How can we let dressing room attendants roll their eyes and women with hijabs get taunted and escorted out by security? How can we let any of this happen to our brothers and sisters?
How can we stay silent?