Yesterday was July 4th. I admit I find fireworks (and crowds) overwhelming, and was relieved to be in bed with my wife and baby as the pyrotechnic thudding and loud, distant music did their thing.
But yesterday I felt what I’ve only begun to feel in the past few years, as my understanding of our country and the way we fit into the world has deepened: Pride. I feel proud to be American, and happy to be here. I love that I can be gay, and trans, and married to a woman. I’m bothered that there are still a lot of ways in which I’m a second class citizen but those are increasingly due to my status as an Earthling and a woman and a trans person and a vegan pacifist unaffiliated with any major religion, and not my status as an American. It turns out that 2013 is beginning to be a pretty good time to be queer in America. For the first time I’m really starting to feel like America doesn’t mind that I’m here, and maybe even values my family’s contributions to and presence in society.
I can say this: It’s not illegal to be gay where I live. I am not at risk of hanging or stoning or any other type of execution or punishment. There are no armed folks running around threatening my family and friends and neighbors with imminent death or kidnapping or mass rape. (#bringbackourgirls #Nigeria #feminism #patriarchy) So, I am happy to be in this country. I am happy to be in a country that doesn’t mind queer me being here.
I’m happy that our country likes to think outside of the box, to do the things that stupid young countries do, that we’re an upstart and a silly teenager among the older, more staid nations. More often than not this gets us into trouble, but it’s also what makes us interesting, and (very relatively) safe for a lot of different sorts of people.
But while I’m beginning to feel a genuine sense of belonging, and a sense of pride in our country’s ability to somehow provide tenuous support and relative safety to a great number of very diverse people, there is something I can not get behind.
(To be clear, there are like ten million things I can’t get behind, with the #USA, but this thing is the subject of this post, so let’s focus here.)
That thing is borders. Dear USA, why do we care so much about borders? I’m American, and I honestly do not in any way care about them. People are going to move, so let them move. Adjust. Grow up. Live with change. Jesus, people. Didn’t anyone ever teach you to share? Didn’t the USA become the USA because Europeans stole it from Native Americans? Yep, that’s what happened. So please, stop with the border patrols and the “speak English” xenophobia, pick up a book or Wikipedia, and educate yourselves about the world, fellow Americans. Once you learn how awesome everyone else is maybe we’ll care less about our borders and care more about sharing our awesomeness with everyone who wants to be a part of it. For they too are awesome, or why else would they want to live here (despite our being absolutely inhospitable and impolite and positively racist and dangerous to folks from other nations)?
While we’re talking about borders, here is what inspired this post:
A coalition of immigration and civil rights groups has filed a complaint alleging widespread and systemic abuse of migrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Organizations including the National Immigrant Justice Center and the ACLU say they’re acting on behalf of over 100 unaccompanied children mistreated by border agents after crossing into the United States. So far in 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports over 47,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after crossing the border, almost double the number for all of 2013, almost five times the number from 2009. President Obama has described the situation as a “humanitarian crisis.”
A number of the children have been detained in shocking conditions. Over a thousand children are reportedly being held at a warehouse in Nogales, Arizona, some sleeping in plastic containers. On Thursday, The Washington Post posted video showing makeshift holding areas for detained migrants at the McAllen, Texas, Border Patrol station. The video shows dozens of women and children sprawled on concrete floors.
Read the rest, and please, take action. It only takes a minute of your time. Consider what life has been like for the many women and children who, while you have been sitting here reading this article, have been sitting and waiting for some kind of justice and some kind of reprieve from the situation our inaction is putting them in. If you, like me, are an American who thinks that human rights are more important than borders, then please, sign the petition to protect refugees arriving at our southern border, and share the link with others. Thank you, and peace!
Oh, and happy Independence Day. I’m glad I’m no longer beholden to a queen, though she’s a very nice person I’m sure.
A huge thank you to the folks on the Multicultural Resource Center’s Talking Circle Alumni mailing list, where I saw these links posted this morning.