Today I marched in the March for Refugees because I believe in standing up for the very foundation that our government was built on.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
As one sign at the march wrote next to a picture of the Statue of Liberty: “Did I stutter?”
I am a white, educated, woman who makes a decent living. My life comes with a whole lot of privilege.
I’m also introverted with pretty severe social anxiety so going to places with large crowds and strangers isn’t exactly the easiest thing for me. But I am also outspoken and not afraid to speak up for what I believe in.
Today I overcame my anxiety and marched because I believe and was raised on the belief that our most important goal in life is to pay it forward to honor those that came before us by providing a better future for those that follow. I believe that all of us in some way believe in working to provide a better life for future generations. But you cannot do that without acknowledging your current state in life.
You see I am a descendent of poor immigrants. Though my skin is pale white, I am a descendent of a “mixed-race” marriage. I am the descendent of a refugee that was forced out of his home country for religious persecution. I am the granddaughter of a loving man who spent most of his career working for the Social Security Administration so that he could provide a stable and better life for his family. I am the daughter of two parents who raised me to believe that diversity makes the world a better place. I believe that innovation cannot occur if everyone is exactly the same. I am a friend of refugees, immigrants and first generation Americans. All of these people, and all of the struggles they’ve faced, have had profound impacts on my life for the better.
You see every march for those that are different from us is an honor to our ancestors. I don’t just see people who’ve had their lives torn apart because of war, I see my ancestors, my friends, my family. These are people who are not dangerous to our country. They are not stealing our jobs. They are adding to our economy, to our wholeness in our lives. They are people who are trying to make a life better for their children and all of our future generations.
Fear of different, is simply that, fear. It’s ok to have fear. But what makes someone a hero, is facing that fear head on to overcome it. Fear is a natural feeling, but don’t let fear turn into anger and violence and discrimination. So instead of fearing those that are different start a conversation. Invite someone that’s different over for dinner. Hear each other’s life stories. You will see that you have more in common than you think. But most importantly turn your fear into something positive, which often means standing up for those that are different.
But on the subject of privilege, I’ve seen so many conversations that turn angry or point blame. Acknowledging your privilege doesn’t diminish your hard work or your struggles. It simply acknowledges that maybe you take things for granted that other’s can’t. It means that you were able to accomplish more than someone who was different, but put in the same amount of work.
I saw a comment on the Deadspin article about the Spurs coach speaking out about the Muslim Ban. (Great read) http://deadspin.com/gregg-popovich-had-an-insightful-monologue-on-white-pri-1791945369
The comment gave me chills and makes a stronger case at my overall point.