Tiffany and I recently visited our dad in California, where he’s been living for the past four years. So we’re doing something a little different this month...
Our time visiting our dad was marked by anticipation and anxiety for the inauguration of our 45th president. As a family whose story is practically defined by immigration, the weight of the discrimination that’s taking place weighs heavily on us. It defies everything we’ve learned about our story, and the people we’ve met along the way.
My parents are two of many immigrants who left everything behind and fled their country. For them, it was a war-torn and then-communist Vietnam. At age 13, my dad swallowed his fear, and as his boat out of the country sank, accepted his imminent death. They were rescued by a ship that took them back to Vietnam, where he faced imprisonment with bravery and determination. And then, once he and his family were released, they planned their escape all over again.
For his family’s survival at the refugee camp, he had to swim miles into the ocean to buy food from black market ships to feed his brothers and sisters.
Once my parents arrived in the US, they attended high school and finished their homework every night, all while learning to speak English. They owned their own business together, and my dad paid his way through college while he raised a family.
Who has the right to reduce people to the color of their skin, the accents they speak with, or the religion that they practice? If you want to define immigrants, define them by their hard work, their courage and determination for a better future, and their unrelenting hope.
We don’t need to take away the rights of others to maintain our own. If my parents have taught me anything, it’s that in order to overcome fear and hatred, we need to lean on each other because our differences make us stronger.