Monday, February 5, 2018

Immigration, DNA, Dreams, Hope, and a Poem. That's This Monday Morning.

My Ancestry.Com kit was sent to the labs a week ago. I now await six weeks to see the results. I have always written that I'm an ethnic mutt, knowing my relatives come from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany and Ukraine. That's the belief we've had anyways. We have knowledge of the Crandalls settling in Rhode Island with Roger Williams (perhaps folklore) and information about the Lysaks emigrating during the Russian pogroms (maybe). I'm hoping my spit in a plastic tube will verify some of this.

Either way, my family like all families in the U.S. immigrated during times of turmoil with a hope for a better life.

This is why I love all the work I do with refugee youth in the United States and my passion for urban schools that often educate the children who arrive with a strong belief in the Statue of Liberty and America's place in a global world. Yesterday, in New Haven, a record number of runners ran in support of refugees and as IRIS Director Chris George announced, "These numbers send a message about the America we're intended to be." I was proud, too, to sponsor our team of almost 40 runners from Fairfield by donating money I've earned through doing professional development for teachers. My faith in the power of education and the importance of learning history, immigration, global conflict, and inequities, I believe, has been central to the work I've done on my campus and schools.

Poem by Brian Bilston. Mailed to me by
a friend last week. Written March 23, 2016.
With this noted, there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation being spread across the United States and all I can think is, "What are we thinking? Why aren't we reading and doing research? What happened to one nation under God?"

God, which I call the Great Whatever, is good when you add the extra 'o.' At my core, I know it is always right to do what is right and this, although it seems to be very hard for many, requires a power to love. God is love. I hear it preached on Sunday morning sermons on the television, and I know that many across the country read the bible religiously.

God is, then, good for everyone if we look to the good of humanity: the tired, the poor, and the hungry.

This weekend, I learned that a wonderful family in Bridgeport with two stellar achievers at Fairfield University were denied citizenship because they come from a Muslim nation and they are viewed as a threat to the United States. This is a family who fought against the Taliban on the side of the United States, but because of today's political climate, now have 15 days to appeal the decision made from the Department of Homeland Security that they are a danger to our nation. They are a tax-paying, store-owning family with straight A students who have done nothing but demonstrate kindness, pride, and hope to all that know them. The father, too, carried his business forward even after American-born punks shot him in a robbery, trying to take away what little their cash the registers bring in. They have been thankful for what America has offered them, but like stories that are popping up all over the country, they are being torn apart, ice-cold.

I'm trying to put myself in the place of their father, especially knowing that my ancestors were immigrants, too. My grandparents made their way in the nation so their children could provide for their children. In high school, we watched videos of vitriol against the Irish and Italians when they arrived in the 1900s - families that led to so many of my fantastic, childhood friends from my neighborhood and schools.

But where are we America? What is going on? Why such fear? We should not be afraid. Our super diverse society and our ability to be fully inclusive within the military, our schools, our Universities, and in the workforce is what has makes our society great. I want to still believe in this beautiful nation, but I'm crying for the beloved country like Alan Paton did in S. Africa.

We are better than this. We have to be. I cannot believe that people feel this is acceptable. I'm not religious, but I'm praying for them, too. I'm so sorry for the hatred they carry in their hearts and the ignorance they use to guide their paths.

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