One night Liz and I were walking in Oakland, a subsection of Pittsburgh for you that might not know. We ran into some college kids that were praying outside of a CVS. Liz stopped to ask them what was going on and if they needed anything. One of the students was a white female and the other was Asian. We all started talking and found out the one girl was Korean. The conversation continued and they asked us if we wanted to come back to their apt/house to hang out. We weren’t doing much so we decided to go. When we walked in the house it was full of Koreans. Honestly, I was completely overwhelmed. I don’t think anyone noticed but I almost got choked up. It was incredible.
For those of you who don’t understand the significance of Trump saying to four minority women “go back to where you came from”, chances are you’ve never been in the minority or if you have I doubt it lasted too long. This moment in Oakland has been one of the few times, I can probably count on one hand, where I was in a room and wasn’t a minority. Not only was I not the minority, I wasn’t the only one from another country. Sure, I’ve attended a black church in college and have been in rooms where the number of brown people outnumbered the white people. In almost every case though, I’m still a minority on two counts. One I’m Korean and two I was born in another country.
I’ve jokingly said that if I had a dollar for every time someone told me to go back to where I came from I would have retired by now. It’s an exaggeration but wasn’t isn’t an exaggeration is an overwhelming sense of a lack of belonging. That every job, neighborhood, school, church, community setting, concert, sporting event, bar, restaurant, etc I’m still a minority of minorities. For a group of people that already don’t feel that they belong, hearing word like “go back to the country you came from” is crushing. I know that 3 out of 4 of those senators were born in the USA. One however wasn’t. I guarantee you that her thoughts and feelings on the matter are stronger and even more complex than the other three.
I know some of you will find some sort of way to justify what Trump said. A way to rationalize his comments and believe that they are appropriate. I implore you to take a beat, a minute and think about those words. Try with everything you have to imagine living in a world where no one looks like you. Where the people on tv don’t reflect who you are. You go to movies searching for someone that kinda sorta looks like you. Knowing that you are from another country. Not only do you live this way but you have grown up with this all your life. Despite all that you have fallen in love, started a family, made friends and connections. Then the most important and powerful person who looks like the exact opposite of you and represents all of those other people, tells you that you don’t belong and you should leave.