I don’t usually write about immigrants and refugees without talking about human trafficking surviors or survivors of exploitation and abuse. But this is far too great and all consuming not to write about. Now let me first say I was born in the United States to immigrant families. I was not raised in a white-anglo household, one part of my family was very Sicilian and the others were Spanairds with a French mix that seemed to come from an African Country colonized by France. I myself am light skinned with ethnic features, I do not identify as “White” in the same way White European people do. I was not privileged by any means and worked very hard for most of my life and i’m still struggling. I say this because sometimes I feel there is a misconception about being “White”. Not every white skinned person is privileged or even know what it means to be privileged and that’s because their skin may say white but their ubringing is not. They don;t identify with Western Europe i.e. Scandinavia, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, etc. They come from a variety of ethnicities but because their skin is white it is assumed they NEVER had to sruggle, this is a great misconception.
Right now, waves of African immigrants are coming to the shores of Sicily escaping war, conflict, poverty and persecution. Who are the people that are taking them into their businesses giving them jobs, bringing them into their homes where they become part of the family get an education and start their future? Sicilians. It’s because we know the paniful truth of what it’s like to be oppresed, treated like a slave and have your rights taken from you. To this day, even in America, Sicilians are still helping African Americans in many ways. I remember growing up hearing Sicilians being compared to the racial slur that is used to decribe the black community. Our ways were different, our food was different, the way we spoke was not considered civilized or proper. We had to be “Americanized” to submit to Anglo ways and forget about our culture and family history. Then the assimilation process began. It didn’t happen right away though, but as we see now we have a watered-down Sicilian American culture that considers theselves above the rest. But it wasn’t always like that. What happened? People were scared. They blended in the same way African Americans “act white” because they don’t want to be treated different. They have a very tumultuous history with the United States and on some level so do Sicilians. We don’t see Black or White, Latino, Asian, Arabic etc. We see people. It makes me sad to see people no matter what their background is, be devoided of their culture and ethnicity just to blend into White America.
The police state is here to stay and fear is the God that torments immigrants from going outside just to get food. This is the age of ICE when even those of us that were born here stop and think “will I be stopped?” I remember taking a trip to San Diego (which is really Mexico) for work and decided to take a walk over the border to Tiajuana for shopping and a little sight seeing at the popular Avendia Revolucion. Going past the Mexican officer was not a problem at all as I do speak some spanish but not much because you know-‘Merica. So I walked across the border with as I like to say “Just me and the Mexicans.” It was a sobering experience. Every day hundreds of Mexicans cross that border to come to San Diego to work and then cross back to go home. They cross to work in a country that was theirs and now they need permission access it and be treated like a criminal. I met a really sweet woman who travels to her home country of Mexico all of the time. She was hoping to set back to San Diego soon to go to church. Coming back into the United States did not prove to be as easy as leaving. When I finally got to border control to cross over I was stopped by a gallon of milk young white border patrol officer who apparently didn’t think I belonged in the United States and seemed to have an itchy trigger finger. So very calmly I expalined to him that I was just shopping and sight seeing, with that he asked for my passport which is standard. So I handed it to him. When he saw the places I’ve been, and will continue to go to, as well as my last name which didn’t neccesarily fit the places I’ve been, he immediately when into are you a terrorist mode. I again calmly explained to him that I was shopping and even offered to show him what I bought and have him search the bags. He didn’t flich. Still asking me a myraid of questions. When he saw that he couldn’t scare me or find a way to detain me, he let me go. Even though my Latin heritage isn’t from Mexico, I got a first hand experience, albeit not a rough one, of what a lot of Mexicans face when trying to enter into the United States. Imagine having to go through this everyday in country that used to belong to your own people? And this was BEFORE Trump. Continue reading