I'd love to hear your thoughts around belonging and multicultural identity. Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments!
Do I Belong in This America?
We were stopped at a stoplight when the truck pulled forward in the lane to our right. It stopped beside the van in front of us and the driver rolled down his window.
A slew a hate was unleashed and screamed through the driver’s window. Lots of the F-word. GO HOME! Illegals. The word Mexican spat out like sour milk.
I could taste the hate in the air.
It happened so fast and so unexpectedly. To our knowledge, no driving transgression had occurred. It felt random and fierce. And of course, not really random at all.
We didn't know how to respond. In person, I would feel some sort of compulsion to step in. But in cars rumbling at a red light, it felt like the only options were to ram them or pray for green.
We frantically rolled up the windows, trying to press out the hate. I looked at the dark-skinned, Latino face in the side mirror of the van in front us. He stared ahead. Tears wet my eyes.
I have been empathetic as long as I have known myself. But this goes deeper for me than an “I hurt for you” response.
Witnessing this type of horrible-ness, whether in real life or on Twitter when a child sings the national anthem… it chips away at my soul. It drives a disconnection inside me that makes me feel homeless.
It feels almost inappropriate to say this as a white person. My white skin and my husband’s white skin means we avoid much of this direct racism spewed our way. I am aware of that privilege.
I wrote a sentence in my Coke ad post that surprised me: Sometimes I sigh and wonder if living here will ever feel like it “fits” again. I guess I didn’t know that I often feel like I don’t fit.
I resonate with the stories of immigrant children, who wear both cultures but sometimes feel exposed as fitting into neither. I hear the same experiences echoed by missionary kids, recent immigrants or people of color raised in an environment of a different culture.
I don’t want to “steal” their stories or pretend that my experiences are exactly the same. I know that, if I want to, I can blend into majority culture, and from the outside, appear to fit right in.
But there’s a reality in my heart that I’m uncomfortable. I am sometimes taken aback by how much my worldview has changed and how much mainstream culture in the news reflects an America I haven’t experienced in a really long time.
It feels like two worlds. And it hurts because it used to fit. But it’s also freeing because I feel more like myself.
But when I hear the hate... when words like, “Go home!” are screamed at a stoplight, I know I’m not the one yelling. But I’m also not standing behind the screamer thinking, “Don’t say that!” or “I don’t agree! I don’t feel that way!”
No. I’m in the same lane behind the Mexican drivers, listening as the shouts echo on my heart, thinking, “But where will I go?”
I am linking up this month with SheLoves Magazine around the theme "Belong." You can link-up your post here.