To be raised as the child of immigrants gives you many lessons. As the token minority in your classes you are aware from a young age that your achievements and failures won’t just reflect on you and your family but also your entire ethnicity. You become fluent in the language of immigrant struggle even if you yourself, quite honestly, had a pretty easy life. It was your parents that risked, your parents that suffered. You were given the luxury of finding self actualization, of pondering happiness and fulfillment.
You grow up in love with America. Because your parents teach you that it is so much better than where you came from. And in some ways, it is, at least for you. This becomes a complicated love affair. You learn the history of your country. You learn that the land, “this land is your land this land is my land”, was stolen. That the people that came before you have been starved and murdered and brutalized for centuries. That they were pushed onto every shrinking parcels of land and now live as forgotten foreigners in their native home. The history your smiling white 4th grade teacher will tell you, is a lie. She tells you that this country was born out of of a desire for freedom, for liberty and justice for all, but this country was born out of blood. Out of a desire for freedom, for liberty and justice for a few. You will consider sitting down when the pledge of allegiance comes on in the morning in high school once you understand your right to protest, the way your white liberal friends do, but you find yourself unable to stay sitting because at night you go home to parents who will remind you that this is the greatest country in the world.
And some of your brown friends will start saying the word their skin isn’t dark enough for. They attempt to shirk their proximity to whiteness by knotting the same noose that has been drawn for hundreds of years. “But it’s just in a song” “But I didn’t say the r”. You will try and figure out where you fit in the landscape of American racism. You are lucky to be here. Your journey of doubt continues because you are unsure how “great” and “murder” fit together. You see on the news that a little boy was killed by the police and you switch it off before they show his mother weeping.
You realize that these countries have become great by doing terrible things.