Today, Sahar Sarid had an interesting non-domaining post about his "welcome" to the US back in 1996.
Food for thought. Here's an excerpt:
Friday the 13th 1996 started as just another day in New York. Nice weather, I was driving around not sure what to do, just moved to the U.S, decided to visit a friend of my sister in Jamaica, Queens, get the car washed. Ilan, my sister’s friend, was a car wash manager in Queens. I used to go there from time to time, as he was a friend, he let me get the car washed whenever I stopped by, then we would sit in office and talk about life, dreams (even the internet back then),
That day things changed, Ilan, as he was living in Manhattan, didn’t have a ride back home, not sure why. He was suppose to take the Subway but suggested I drive him to Manhattan, drop him closer to his area. My only objection was I have never driven in Manhattan, don’t know the roads. Ilan said no worries, he will guide me out after I drop him...
Read the rest of his story here.
Sahar's true story really resonates with me; as a teacher of literature, I am drawn to multicultural works, especially works having to do with the immigrant experience and African-American struggles of the 19th century.
I'm especially impressed that Sahar decided to remain in the US and has obviously made a success of his life.
In a sense, we are all immigrants--that is, unless you're Native American. I'm Irish Catholic, with the red hair to back it up (Okay, so the red hair is fake, but my mother had natural red hair, so I have the red hair gene...). My family came over in the 18th Century, probably because of poverty and political reasons.
This country is made up of immigrants who have done very well for themselves; however, each generation seems to have an ethnic group that is deemed "undesirable"; during the Civil War, the Irish were dubbed "Lace Curtain Irish" because of their love for lace, which was frowned upon by the elite, and their willingness to assume jobs no one else wanted, much like the Mexicans do now. The American-Japanese were feared during World War II and incarcerated in detainee camps by the U.S. government. Shortly after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees fled to the U.S. where they were often referred as "Gooks" and other pejorative labels.
Unfortunately, people fear what they don't understand; if an immigrant worships a different God, has a different color of skin, or speaks a strange language with a different alphabet, folks sometimes make negative assumptions. Events like 9/11 just intensify negative sentiment.
I'm glad that Sahar decided to make his story public; he's a perfect example of someone who has made it big despite people's prejudices and stereotypes. We "natives" should take a lesson or two from Sahar's book.