Friday, June 22, 2012

Where I Come From

I know that I share political thoughts which may not be supported by all. Let me just say, I understand that you may not like the way I word things occasionally and I hope you will read my thoughts with an open mind. I am not setting out to offend, I am simply sharing my truth.

I am the grandchild of immigrants. My great grandparents moved here hoping for a better opportunity for their children just in time to put their kids through the great depression. They built their own home on a small island near San Fransisco, and my uncle lives in it today. Some of the people I am descended from may have moved here to escape famine. And recently I learned that some faced persecution because apparently they were not supposed to marry their spouse based on where they came from.  Irish people are after all dangerous, hot headed, criminals. (or such was the "common knowledge" of the day)

According to my parents I'm American, and some of my relatives are Italian, some are Welsh, some British, and some are German. I was told I did not have any Irish or Indigenous blood, but I was pretty sure we did. In the fourth grade I investigated on my own for a "Family Tree" school project, and my Father's Grandmother told me more than we'd ever known before. My family tree diagram is incomplete, but what I learned by speaking to my elders was life changing. Their knowledge and history shaped who I am.  Apparently my father's grandmother's family was indigenous to central California. I eventually met them at a family reunion, but my dad's mom denied we were all related because she could not bear the idea hat she had married someone who was not 100% white. (prejudice fries my brain)
My mother's family watched both their sons go off to war.  The irony of my grandfather and his brother being in the American army as German Americans is not lost to them, as during another particularly dark time, my mom's family had to take care of her neighbors' house while they were put in an internment camp for being Japanese. I was raised knowing that we must treat humans as humans no matter their differences because to not do so, can lead to horrific loss and cruelty. How, in just a few generations, have people seemed to forget so much!

I think that people forget that this country has in the past put people into camps merely based on their heritage, enslaved people, legislated some people are less human than others, and killed so many indigenous people. Some people seem to think we have overcome those things and can never backslide. Some seem to think no one has to fight for their rights anymore, because we should all be treated equally under the law. Some people are wrong.

Many of us are descended from immigrants who were not wanted here, and without whose immigration we would not have the lives we have today. Some of them did not follow the letter of the law when entering the country. Some of us are descended from slave owners and their slaves. Others of us are descended from indigenous people who were raped and taken away from their families and forced into marriage. Some people lost their entire families to atrocities committed right here in the US. These are the truths of our history. These truths leave scars that run deep. Generations of hurt need more than words to heal. How will we ever move forward if we do not pay attention to the past and learn from it.

In my life, it is time to simplify. The simple truth is that we are all human. No matter our differences, we are all human.

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