History has a dirty habit of repeating itself. Especially if we don’t learn from it and our mistakes.
You’d pretty much have to be blind to any form of news to not know anything about the current immigration crisis that is plaguing the U.S. From the travel ban that was reinforced by Congress over the past week and more emotionally with families being separated at the U.S.-Mexican border (with kids being sent even to as far north as New York), the overall xenophobia issue of the “unknown” will affect more than just Middle Eastern and Hispanic immigrants. As a black American, if you don’t take action in some way, shape, or form, this will affect you and your future generations.
According to some bigoted unintelligent “intellects” back in whatever century they thought it was fair to consider people with more melanin as savages, we were deemed as inferior and less capable of civility. Obviously, the sentiments are still held today. There is no need to try and argue that. As people of color, we see it day-in and day-out. Hell, non-people of color see it. The issue just lies on whether or not people want to accept it and the reasons behind it. Those theories and ideologies have carried throughout the rest of the world as well, unfortunately. We see it with skin bleaching creams and chemical hair straighteners. That hate and ignorance is rooted in uncredited theories and beliefs. Those same ideas cannot negate one group from another.
Example: There’s a rising group of people showing their dislike towards Hispanics seeking refuge in the country. They feel as if these people commit majority of the crimes in the U.S. and that they should enter the country “legally” rather than “breaking the law.” (Though, it is quite difficult for a refugee to go about the “proper” process prior of coming to the country, depending on their individual and national situations.) Because of this, some think it’s OK to separate their children, send these people back to dangerous conditions that may not even be their homes, or even kill them for not abiding by the law. How can this mentality NOT sound similar to slave auctions and the Fugitive Slave Laws when Northerners would send runaway slaves back to the South for breaking the law in search of asylum and freedom?
If you turn your cheek away from this mass atrocity, eventually, they will come for you too.
During the 1830s, the U.S. continued expanding beyond the Original 13 Colonies. In this process, the “new” Americans encountered Native Americans. Seeing them as a threat to their land, a blight on their newly-founded societies, and a burden on a territory they felt they deserved, “new” Americans pushed the Native Americans out and onward to the Trail of Tears. Removing hundreds of thousands of people from their land and pushing them into areas far outside of their homes. Many died along the way, and those who survived were forced out of their customs and pressured to assimilate into what had become “American culture,” according to people who had been Americans for about 10 minutes. However, once that “Indian Territory” became vital land for the U.S. government, Native Americans were forced to live on reservations.
During the 1850s, there was an era of xenophobia due to the growing number of Chinese immigrants coming to the U.S. It was a time in which the West was starting to prosper with gold and frontier communities. With the vast number of Chinese migrating to California, the Chinese Exclusion Act was created due to economic and cultural differences. The “new” Americans essentially were fearful and apprehensive of another group of people coming in to also be “new” Americans. Therefore, laws were created to prevent the Chinese from becoming legal Americans and completely from entering the country. Some of the laws weren’t reversed until the Second World War in order to have a friend on the U.S. side.
Which brings us to our next batch of ridiculous racism: Japanese internment camps. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. officially entered WWII. This was not necessarily to fight the Nazis. The final breaking point was Japan bombing the naval point on Hawaii. Because of this, any Japanese-Americans who were in the U.S. were placed in internment camps. Essentially, they were concentration camps of the Americas and considered “one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.”
And yet, here we are, separating children from their parents in 2018. It’s as if officials have no worries about these children developing psychological issues throughout their formative years because of traumatic stressed the government is placing upon them — regardless if their parents came to the U.S. illegally. We should be concerned about the impact that we’re placing on future generations OF THE WORLD. This entire incident will remain in their minds as they grow older, and who knows how they can view Americans in the future.
On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order to keep families together at the border. Though thousands of children have already been separated from their families, now it will take between 14-30 days for them to be reunited. But the damage is already done. Regardless, the president’s “zero tolerance” policy of undocumented immigration will continue with court battles of unlawful border crossing. (Though the “new” Americans in the 1600s, I’m sure, didn’t have appropriate documents.) But this also brings into question how long these families will continue to be held in concentra — detention centers while they wait for their trials. With rising hate speech, it also makes us wonder how well these people will or will not be treated and if they will receive fair representation. As a country built on moral ethics and ideologies, our first goal should be to maintain respect for others’ human rights.
And as black Americans, where do we fall in this issue? We’re already here in the U.S. — though, initially against most of our will — and we already have other issues to concern ourselves: economic inequality, lack of education and resources, police brutality. Why would we want to worry about someone else’s problems? Because genocide starts with hate rhetoric. And that speech is passed on to children who will continue to pass hate to their children and future generations. Despite the fact that we should fight for all people enduring discrimination, we can’t think that these same forces won’t discriminate against us. Because we do not receive due process if accused of a crime, and instead shot outright and killed by a police officer during, say, a routine traffic stop with your girlfriend and daughter in the car. We’re already victims of the unjust system as well, and there are loopholes to make us diminish or make us kill ourselves and each other.
Racial and ethnic discrimination does not pick and choose which people of color to like one day and who to not like the next. Many can only be separated by an assumption of a last name, a perception of hair types, and mis-information on skin complexion. Otherwise, we’d all be placed in the same cell.
Recognize that xenophobia does not discriminate on who to discriminate. It’s a war against all of us, and we should always take it personal.