America is home to the largest immigrant population in the world.
We truly are a nation of immigrants. We have come here from every corner of earth, beginning with our indigenous populations, who originally crossed the great land bridge in Beringia in ancient times.
It is a practice that repeats itself each and every day with the arrival of new people seeking freedom and opportunity, seeking to escape poverty and oppression, and seeking to give their children a better chance in life.
We share a common purpose, a common goal, and yet we, ourselves a nation of immigrants, fear—and all too often loathe—our fellow immigrants.
Most immigrants fought hard and endured unspeakable suffering and sacrifice for the honor to live in this land of great opportunity. So many were willing to give everything for a chance to reside within these borders. But for many too many of us, once we were counted among the privileged few, we wished to close the borders and take that same opportunity away from all others.
This is nothing new. We have feared and hated immigrants throughout our history. We crafted offensive racial slurs for almost every ethnic group in the world. We treated whole groups of people with racism and intolerance. We did some abysmal things. We enslaved people with African roots. We put innocent Japanese immigrants into internment camps. But more often our actions are subtler, yet every bit as damaging to the human spirit.
We completely dismiss and devalue people based on their race or immigrant status. We deny immigrants opportunities we routinely offer to the majority culture. We blame immigrants for our woes. Perhaps worst of all, we sit quietly when there are opportunities to stand up and defend the rights of others.
I want to change this practice. We can and we must do better.
I want the United States of America to be great for all who live here, no matter when we arrived. I want all who live here to be treated with the same high level of respect, and to be given the same great opportunities. I want all who live here to feel welcome, to live without daily fear, and without experiencing hatred.
How do we change the culture of our nation? How do we make things better?
We start with our children. We show them a better way. We become better examples. We tell our stories and empower them to do better than we have done ourselves.
I write historical fiction for children. Synopses of my books can be found on this website. I use my words to tell the stories of immigration through the eyes of children.
What was it like for them to come to this country and face all that life gave them here? What adventures did they experience? What did they overcome? Was the dream everything their family had imagined? Did America make them or break them?
We must tell children our story. We must tell them we came here with common dreams and goals. We must teach them to embrace our diversity, for it is our diversity which has made us strong. We have taken the best from every culture on earth and transformed it into the salad bowl which has become the United States of America.
There is room here. There is room for families and individuals who want a better life. There is room for people who long for freedom. There is room for people fleeing tyranny. These new immigrants deserve the same opportunity we received. And they deserve our respect.
I can trace my family line back many generations and have found many individuals who immigrated to this country. Some arrived relatively recently. Others came here 400 years ago.
In the coming weeks I intend to use this blog to tell my own story…to highlight some of my own ancestors who came here so that I might have a better life and better opportunities.
Now that I am here and benefit from all I have been given, who am I to close the doors to others who would seek the same for their families–especially knowing that if my own children were starving or in danger of ethnic cleansing, I would do everything in my power to transport them here.
We must stop hating immigrants, for immigrants are who we are.