Way to start the New Year’s
I woke up on Sat Jan 28, 2017 to the start of Jan 1, 2017 on the Chinese lunar calendar. I happened to be in Vancouver, BC, Canada for a two-day training prior to the festivities and stayed with my folks. I had a rather slow morning and came downstairs to my Mama’s homemade CNY brunch. My aunt came over, my sister and niece have spent the night and all was well until I got a text from my husband.
He was asking when I’d be home. Later in the eve, I conveyed, not knowing what’s the hurry. He then mentioned some executive order that Trump has signed that morning. I looked it up and it was f*cking unbelievable.
I am a Hong Kong-born Canadian citizen green card holder living in America and I was shocked. I cannot imagine what it is like for refugees and Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.
I felt very uneasy and after a late lunch, left for the border. For the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. While Canada and the US are allies and I have all my documentation, a “Muslim ban” from selective Muslim-majority countries has me wondering what’s next.
Back on US soil
The border was uneventful, as if nothing has happened. I almost wish that something was different because this is NOT okay. I’m now back on US soil. And for the first time in my 15.5 years of living in the US, I felt different, like I don’t belong here. My countries of origin and naturalization aren’t even on the blacklist. I’m not even Muslim. But to exclude immigrants and non-citizens is to exclude me and to exclude people like me. I realize to make America great again is make America white again.
During my 2-hour drive home, I became increasingly aware of my “other-ness”. I feel threatened by the future possibility of not being welcomed in this country. I find myself emotionally pulling away from my white community. I picture the faces of these people I have come to know and like, and already, I feel further from them.
Suddenly, I realize what was happening. There is a great divide in our country and around the world and to pull away is to concede. In Trump’s promotion of all people white, male, straight, Christian, middle and upper class, able bodied and Euro American, he is shutting down those who don’t fit the bill.
I’m not having it.
Leaning into America
When I realized this, I made a conscious decision to lean in, instead of pull away. It helped that when I got home, my husband, who is 4th-generation Japanese American, hugged me for a long time. It helped that protests rose up at airports and city streets around the country as we stand with each other. It helped that I connected with my community the next day and saw how they were also affected by this news.
It helped that this is not the end; rather, the beginning.
We CAN find safety and shelter in each other. Notice where this was filmed: