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We Can’t Turn Away

With the constant stream of hostile rhetoric coming from the President’s personal twitter account and press statements, it can be hard to know what to respond to and what not to grant the dignity of our attention.

But when the President of the United States uses racist comments to attack individual Americans, we have to speak out. Trump’s comments that four U.S. Congresswomen, all women of color, should “go back where they came from” draws on racist tropes that have been used to target communities of color throughout our history.

That includes my own family’s experience. My parents came to this country in the early 70s, speaking “broken” English with thick accents. I grew up watching them treated as second class, including being refused service or ignored in public because the other person couldn’t understand what my parents were saying. Like almost all Asian-Americans I know, I grew up being asked, and am still asked regularly, “Where are you from?” I still answer “Minnesota,” my birth state, even though I know that’s not the answer they are looking for. The idea of who is truly American, and who is from America, continues to have deep roots in racism and white supremacy.

That is why we still must call out the President’s language as racist and unacceptable, every single time. We cannot let it represent who we are as a country, but in order to do that, we must also change who we have been as a country, and our ideas about who is truly American.

We also cannot turn away from the fact that the attitudes behind that language don’t start or end with a tweet. While Trump doubles down on the insinuation that only certain people can truly be American, his administration’s immigration policies are causing daily harm to living, breathing people – children being pulled away from parents and individuals being caged in deplorable conditions at our border; threatened raids intended to terrify communities of color into invisibility; and cutting off pathways to asylum to vulnerable populations, in violation of U.S. and international law.

Immigrant rights are LGBTQ rights, and elevating racism and white supremacy damages us all. There are attacks on all of our communities coming from this administration, and our communities contain all of us. As we fight our own critical battles on multiple fronts, let us lift up one another and remember that it is inclusion, not exclusion, that makes us strong. One justice movement, embracing our differences, is how we will fight and how we will win.