A few days ago I had a great margarita at my favorite Mexican restaurant, where I visited with the wait staff , all members of the family that owns the restaurant. La abuela doesn’t speak English, so explaining to her that no, really, that was all of the queso fundido I was going to eat and no, there was no problem, got a little complex. But with sufficient broken Spanish on my part and her grandson’s help, we got it sorted out — and enjoyed a moment.
A couple of days after that, I met a young woman from Ukraine whose English wasn’t great, but we managed to have an interesting conversation anyway. She told me she wants to start a YouTube channel for immigrants to share their getting-started stories. I told her it was brilliant — and I think it is.
Last week, I had a couple of medical tests; two of the technicians were Latinx, one was Chinese and the other looked as though he might have had a Viking up the family tree. My doctor is Japanese. My physical therapist is from India.
Yesterday in Target, a young mother wearing a hijab was checking out in front of me and taking longer than her adorable toddler daughter thought was necessary. The little girl started fussing and Mom was getting frustrated, so I played peekaboo with her until Mom had completed her transaction. As she was leaving, she mouthed “Thank you!” over her baby’s head.
Today, I went for a mani-pedi and the young technicians were laughing and talking in Vietnamese as they tag-teamed my fingers and toes. The one who spoke the clearest English asked me how long it had been since my last pedicure. I shrugged, rolled my eyes and she wagged her finger at me, scolding, “You come sooner next time…” and we laughed.
In the past couple of months, I have eaten food from at least six nationalities (go, Seattle!) and have had personal interactions with black people, white people, Latinx people, transgender people, Asian people, gay people, Jewish people, Hindu people, Christian people, Muslim people, unaffiliated reprobates like myself, male people, female people and people who have chosen not to pick sides. And probably a number of other categories I’ve forgotten by now because I don’t care. This is just how my life rolls in a diverse city, among a diverse community, with a heart that is richer for all of them.
I recently read a Washington Post article about the shortage of labor in Maine — where the population has now grown sufficiently old that the World Bank terms it “super-aged” — and the crisis they’re dealing with because there are not enough young workers to care for all those old people.
This imbalance is a harbinger of things to come for all U.S. states, the article said, but particularly for those who have fewer immigrants.
People from other countries have long filled the ranks of medical professionals and caregivers in this nation, but with harsher immigration policies and a public sentiment that makes the U.S. less inviting, the immigrant population will, predictably, dwindle. Not having sufficient professionals and workers to care for elderly people will be a social and economic catastrophe in a decade or less (it’s already happening in Maine and another dozen states). One of the recommendations for the future is to “reshape the workforce” and I’d bet my hat, ass and overcoat that will involve … you guessed it! … more immigrants.
I wonder how some of the horrible white people we are seeing on a daily basis these days insisting in the local Starbucks that the people a table away (who weren’t talking to them) SPEAK ENGLISH!!! or castigating the waiter in the MEXICAN restaurant where they were buying tacos (!!!) to GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM (“Unh … it’s my restaurant…”) are eventually going to deal with the fact that their lily white bum gets wiped by a foreigner or it doesn’t get wiped at all. That should be a day of reckoning, for sure.
I understand that some people are convinced — possibly by a 30-year diet of Fox and Rush — that they are the master race and every one not their particular shade of beige and of their particular pedigree should bow down and make way. If that’s the way they want to play it, OK, I guess. You can’t make people not be hateful. But there need to be some guidelines. These wannabe white separatists need to fully understand the dimensions of the narrow little world they’re condemning themselves to.
If I were named Queen for a Day, these are a few of the new rules I would hereby order for all those angry white people:
- If you don’t want immigrants to live in the U.S.A. and/or you think brown people of any type are your inferiors, you will be required to wear an indelible stamp across your forehead (not a tattoo, because we want you to have a change of heart) with a big, fat purple B for Bigot. If you are sporting this stamp, you cannot purchase anything brought to this country by an immigrant ever or made by a brown person. Food, clothing, jewelry, electronics … nada (or in English, for you, “nothing”).
- If you are wearing your required B-for-Bigot stamp and you become ill, you will not be able to access care by anyone brown or from another country, especially Muslim or shit-hole countries (is “shit-hole” hyphenated or one word? Whatever). You may die, but you’ll have the comfort of dying while being right about race.
- You have to give up any food that any immigrant group has ever introduced here. No Mexican food, no Chinese, no Thai hot, no sushi, no Indian buffet, no soul food — no nuthin’ but potatoes and whatever some Native American might be kind enough to cook up for you. They will retain the right to refuse. You cannot eat anything harvested by any immigrant ever. You will starve, but again, you’ll retain your righteousness on the way out.
- You will not be able to sell anything to anyone from an immigrant group or with skin darker than copy paper. If you’re a business owner or manufacturer or a tradesperson or … oh hell, anyone … you’ll notice the economic impact quickly because immigrants and brown people are, you know, drivers of our economy.
- You must relinquish all access to any music imported from any immigrant group or via any brown people. This leaves … unh … gosh … hmmm … still thinking. Even bluegrass or old-time country are out because that came to us courtesy of that pesky Irish/Scot invasion and, even though these were my people and they borrowed heavily on the African traditions already taking root in the South, they were, at one point, nasty immigrants. Certainly no blues, jazz, rock & roll, hip-hop, classical (all those Eye-talians, doncha know). Maybe you can listen to some nice Native American flute music, indigenous to this country, but again, you’ll have to rely on the kindness of the original residents of this continent and, frankly, some of them are weary of your bullshit.
- You will never be able to enjoy any electronic devices again — iPhones, tablets, laptops, PCs. According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the resident population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, immigrants represent 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, foreign-born inventors contributed to more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities. Immigrants and brown people have been all up in the development of all of the electronic stuff for a long time, so … sorry. It’s not easy being racist. Buck up.
- Alas, no sportsball. Given the preponderance of players of color in basketball, football, tennis and such, no B-for-Bigot can enjoy the sportsball games anymore, either in person or on TV. They’ll have NASCAR … hockey … lacrosse, so that’s something. Bottom line, you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor if you aren’t willing to grant them as much humanity and value as you grant yourself. Very simple, actually.
I could go on and on, but you get the drift.
(NOTE: Because this conclusion apparently isn’t clear to some readers, let me be completely explicit: We would not have a worthwhile culture or a society without the contributions of immigrants and/or people of color — who, yes, I know, are not necessarily the same. Music, fashion, art, food, science, engineering and on and on would not exist as they do today without the creativity and contribution of not-white people. This does not mean I hate white people (yes, I read your comments). But the idea that we could have a whites-only society even if that were even remotely desirable — which it ain’t — or that the U.S. has been a homogenous society at any point in our nation’s history, is simply dopey. Don’t be dopey.)
So you (wanna be white separatists) go ahead and sit over there in your little whitey-tighty corner, wrapped in gauze and buffered from any encounter with anyone not on your list of approved races, ethnic groups and/or gender expressions. I haven’t seen this list, but I assume you’ve all gotten together and worked it out, right? Because you seem to have such a clear picture of who is and isn’t a human being entitled to the full rights and respect one gives to others, I figured you’ve put your heads together and gotten very clear about who’s in and who’s out. Oh… that reminds me of Rule № 8.
8. You have to spit in a vial and/or swab your cheek and get that DNA sorted out. I know I’m white because I did that and was quite disappointed that the results came back white-white-whitey-white — British Isles all the way, yo. I was raised being told that for sure we had a Native American ancestor (I feel you, Elizabeth Warren) and probably an African American one. So imagine my chagrin to discover I’m “pure.” You, on the other hand, may not know your pedigree and it’s essential that you do. If you’re going to be such a hate-weasel about racial purity, you will need to scientifically verify that you are actually pure. Otherwise we add the orange H for Hypocrisy stamp to your forehead. It’s gonna get crowded up there if you don’t lighten up.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are going to go about our daily lives, enjoying each other’s company, benefitting from mutual relationships, taking pleasure in varieties of flavor and music and accents and skin colors and ages and religions and hair styles and personalities different from our own.
Just being, you know, decent human beings who are grateful for each other’s presence in this delicious world we get to live in together.
K.C. Compton is a journalist living in Seattle. She has worked as a columnist, reporter and editor at newspapers throughout the Rocky Mountain region and is a former editor with Mother Earth News. Pronouns=she/her