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June 20, 2020

I, too, am America.

 

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On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, impacting 700,000 people, giving hope that the known American Dream lives on.

This decision is especially essential in these times when we are walking together to raise our voice against systemic racism, social injustice, and all during a pandemic. The decision showed a humane side of America at a time when the country is talking about race relations and police brutality.

Preceding this decision was another Supreme Court ruling stating that the “1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex”—ushering in equal legal rights at the workplace, businesses, schools, and elsewhere for the LGBT community.

Both decisions are a step forward in the journey for equality and immigration—the two fundamental founding principles of this country. While the upholding of DACA is a step in the right direction to transform into the “DREAM Act,” the non-discriminatory rights at the workplace for the LGBTQ community is leading the course for the “Equality Act.”

The decisions stand for inclusiveness, which is the core value of this nation outside of any political debate.

A sense of belonging, and being a part of something bigger than oneself, is a human need. DACA has given the Dreamers that sense of belonging in their home–for many, the only home that they may have known since childhood.

DACA has given dreamers a chance to dream freely and pursue the American dream. And the equal right to treatment of the LGBTQ community at the workplace has given everyone a glimmer of hope that there can be equality, and protection in other areas such as housing and accommodations, and that is only the start.

Coming to racism, we have to go to ground zero. If wondering what that ground zero is, then that is us—and all of us as living and breathing beings. One can be either a racist or anti-racist, with no middle path. Yet many are stuck on the middle road as non-racists. Either way, it is a fundamental right to question: Why am I for or against something?

When we are questioning, we become the ground zero, and start seeking out answers.

The real-life protests are out on the streets, but our inner conscience is also protesting and challenging this pattern of racism that has been ongoing for generations. Are we getting the answers to our questions on why racism exists? Be it our “family beliefs,” “I never questioned, because it does not affect me,” or “why fewer opportunities exist for POC.” When our conscience questions, we become aware. We conclude what crap we all have been fostering, and from there, the human transformation begins.

Even the pandemic has given us a crucial learning experience. The virus did not discriminate because of color, gender, or sexual orientation. We are all susceptible to it. And we all die with or without sickness, but the virus drove this point a lot closer to home.

Yet, humans discriminate and exclude, forgetting each of us are unique and different at the same time. If nature paints its masterpiece with many colors from its palette, then why is nature’s greatest creation—human beings—so adamant on differentiating between colors? We are painting an ugly portrait for future generations, if things don’t change.

All the above three—the protests against racism, the pandemic, the Supreme Court’s ruling for the LGBTQ, and the DACA decisions—are screaming for another new American dream, which is inclusive and stands up for equality.

We as humans are at the brink of transformation at a conscious level. The question is how far are we willing to take this transformation forward, and not drop out halfway. It’s easy to go back to our old beliefs and practices. Change is painful, but game-changers of massive proportions are needed to impact the world.

I leave you with the below poem written by Langston Hughes, published in 1925. It was part of the Harlem Renaissance. The words long for equality, while rejecting the idea that patriotism can be limited by race.

I thought of this poem when I heard about George Floyd’s unjust death. I, again, thought about it when the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the DACA program. Though the short, yet powerful poem portrayed the black life and disease of slavery, I find the poem relevant today. It’s unifying for equality for people of color, dreamers, people of any sexual orientation, or humans from any background with the patriotic heart and passion for America and justice for all.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed-

I, too, am America.

 

May we dream a new dream for America that is inclusive, and stands on the pillars of equality—because we all are America.

 

Watch an anti-racism hour with Jane Elliott talking with Waylon Lewis of Elephant, here.

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