This summer I met a pair of brothers, one a year older than me and one a year younger, colloquially known as “Dreamers.”
They came to the United States when they were six and four. They understand Spanish but don’t speak it. They went to every year of Elementary, Middle, and High School here in the United States. They go to church here. They have no criminal records, work out a lot, but also love eating McDonalds, and watch Rick and Morty. Both of them have had full-time jobs since high school and pay more taxes in a year then I have paid in my whole life. Now they are being told they are probably going to be sent “home” to a country they barely remember.
I was pretty disappointed when President Trump announced he was canceling DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that gives my two friends a dream. A dream that someday their actions will matter more than where they were born. A dream that when politicians go out looking for points to score they won’t be the ones in the firing line. A dream that they can someday live without fear in the only home they have ever known.
Since its inception, the United States has been struggling to answer a question that we don’t ever like to say out loud, because it’s so damn racist: who is really a United States citizen? The answer a lot of people still give — through their votes and actions, if not explicit words — is wealthy straight white males.
And don’t get me wrong: I am a wealthy straight white male. But I remember, every day, that it is wealthy straight white males who broke the world with slavery, racism, and genocide, and who are still, to a large extent, holding the world hostage in a variety of ways. If anyone is at fault for the state of the world, it’s white people.
And that is why, when I have the chance to support something as obviously good for the human race and my country as DACA, it’s a no-brainer. This, I feel, is a classic case of right versus wrong.
However, it’s also a classic case of right vs. convenient. Everyone wants to do the right thing until something more convenient comes along. DACA is convenient to oppose. It’s convenient to pretend to not have white privilege, to pretend we didn’t commit genocide against native people, to pretend we aren’t supporting Trump’s rhetoric and still vote for people who support and enable him. Convenient to call people “illegals” and ignore their humanity and obvious ties to our country. Convenient to find someone else to blame.
Friends: look beyond convenience. Look for what is right. Look beyond your checkbook, your gut reaction, your first thoughts, your aging constitution, your daily habits, your assumptions, and your traditions. Look for the faces and stories of the people you don’t understand. But, most importantly of all, when you discover you’ve done wrong — and I have, many times — admit it, ask for- giveness, and listen.
Everyone is capable of evil and capable of good. No one is perfect. But we should all aspire to the highest ideals of America — self-determination, diversity, and the pursuit of happiness — not to the convenient race based imperialism that has plagued our country since its birth.
Listen. Pray. Protest. Vote. Act. Admit mistakes. And we will make a better world.