Being a 'woke' immigrant is hard and exhausting. The hard part is being 'woke' in itself and seeing all the injustices, mistreatment and discrepancies placed on black and brown immigrants in comparison to other immigrants. The exhausting part is seeing immigrants of color defend this treatment and agree with it.
Last week dude called my country a shithole. For almost 48 hours, nothing was said to defend it, and then they said he didn’t say "shithole," he said "shithouse." Okay, way to clarify that administration, huge difference there. He said he preferred people from Norway to immigrate to the US because they have something to offer unlike the shithole/house countries of Haiti and Africa —not a country. A year has passed and not only are we still alive, but we are past the shock level of what dude says on a daily basis. This is real life people, our real life! My initial reaction to his comments was what I have been doing for the past year; I laugh hysterically until my eyes water then I remember that I’m a G and get myself right together.
I know I’m not from a shithole/house country, so I wasn’t bothered by the foolery, but the reactions after his statement gave me serious pause and reminded me of being 'woke.' I expected people who look like the dude to chime in and agree with him. After all, most of them have never left their hometowns, been downtown in their cities, left their states or even own a passport. They agreed with him and most likely can’t locate any of the shithole/house countries on a map.
What I wasn’t expecting was people who look like me and live in these countries to agree with the dude as well. I was so frustrated when an African couple I admired who live in Europe came out publicly as dude’s supporters during the campaign. They proudly sported their red MAGA hats. They spent hours on social media defending dude, and the gag is they couldn’t even vote for him. A video of a Nigerian man agreeing with dude went viral a few days ago. He argued that his country was a shithole/house because its citizens were mistreated by the Government. He forgets that every country including the US has problems. To him and many like him, America can do no wrong. They defend the wrongdoing because they genuinely believe their best interests are being protected.
The complexities of explaining racism to black and brown people who don’t live in the US will never be understood unless it is experienced. They really do believe we are overreacting and making a mountain out of a molehill. Just look at Terry Mango, of Stockholm, Sweden, the mother of the boy in the H&M ad bearing the monkey reference hoodie. Did you see her reaction? She said she had been called a monkey before on a cruise ship and had experienced racism BUT still saw nothing wrong with her son Liam’s ad. She, like others, excuse the obvious and until they have lived in the US and actually experienced racism, you are talking to a brick wall.
Another example of the obvious is being questioned about giving birth to your child in the US as a person of color and being looked at under a microscope while doing so. Meanwhile, Russian women are welcomed to Miami in droves to give birth. News stories are written about them and not a little blurb in the small town paper. An entire camera crew, producer, and reporter sent to cover the story that pregnant Russian women hire an agency to help arrange their trips to Miami and pay up to $100,000 for services including finding apartments (paying 6 months of rent up front), doctors and obtaining visas. Never mind sending those news crews to cover the daily injustices we witness on a regular basis.
America likes nicely packaged things with a high price tag, people included. If you show up unpackaged, unpretty and on the sale rack, you won’t be welcomed like the others because you are ruining the pretty aesthetic. The flag is red, white, and blue for a reason; dark colors and dark people are necessary for labor, background and shithole purposes only.
Like I said, being a 'woke' immigrant is hella exhausting.