Dear United States, from a citizen just like you

It was a normal visit to Kaiser with my mom where we took my grandpa to get a procedure done and were waiting in the sitting area.

We decided that my grandpa needed a wheelchair, so my mother tried to ask one of the staff members for assistance. She returned irritated that none of the employees gave her the time of day.

“Why don’t you try” she said to me, “You don’t have an accent, so they might take your more seriously.”

Columnist Amira Dabbas and her parents. Courtesy // Amira Dabbas

Columnist Amira Dabbas and her parents. Courtesy // Amira Dabbas

My mother, an immigrant from El Salvador, is such a strong person. She taught me to never let anyone make me question my worth, and to always stand up for myself. The fact something as simple as an accent could take away strength from her even for just a second, angers me beyond words.

According to a Pew research poll, Latino people are the second most discriminated against ethnic group after African-Americans. She was right. The second I spoke to the woman at the front desk her whole attitude changed. My grandfather was immediately brought a wheelchair.

Both cultures that make up my heritage are targets of the current rhetoric surrounding immigrants. Just because someone is from another country and English is not their first language, they automatically become inferior to everyone or even looked at as dangerous. But it’s not myself I worry about, it’s my parents.

My father, an immigrant from Jordan, came home from work one night and told my mother and I that a woman had told him to go back to his country after she overheard him speaking.
My father has lived in the United States for over 35 years. He has brought up a family and built his home here. There is no doubt about it, this is his country.

Although I never feel especially targeted myself, I’ll look at my mother’s face when she watches the news and see the fear creep into her eyes. I see the way my dad puts on a brave front every time he hears racist comments and imagine the sense of defeat that must bring. This is how I am targeted, through the people I love. And what actually keeps me up at night is knowing my parents who came to this country to find a better life for themselves, are faced with discrimination now more than ever.

According to ThinkProgress, anti-immigrant sentiment is mainly caused by concerns about immigrants making Americans less safe . This is absolutely absurd to me. To think that my parents would be considered by anyone as dangerous makes me laugh.

My mom works in the community and my dad wants to take up golf. I cannot think of any more normal people than the two of them. As a daughter of two immigrants, I feel as though it is my duty to stand up and shout from the rooftops so everyone can hear me, “Immigrants are people too.”

According to a poll commissioned by Vox in partnership with Morning Consult, white American’s were found to have negative opinions about immigrants from non-European countries.

Their views were least positive about immigrants from the Middle East, and also hold negative views about immigrants from Latin America.

So why are we basing these fears so much on race? The hilarious truth is that we are living a country where a person is more likely to die being crushed by furniture than from a terrorist attack, as reported as the Washington Post. Just because a person is from a different country does not automatically make them a threat to you.

Unless we are willing to address the current narrative about racism in our country, this racist mentality is what is going to break and divide us.