(Not gonna lie, that’d be a kick ass title for a book) Alas, this is a rare instance of a non-book-related post
The other day on twitter I saw debate over wich kind of immigrant people from the US are “fine” “taking in” (meaning they’d most likely not tear-gas their families of kidnap their children) And me, having been a child immigrant myself, I decided to write a thing on here, just to get it off of my chest.
This was also motivated by my own country’s issues with immigration, particularly with Venezuelan refugees.
WARNING: This ended up longer than I expected–
Let’s begin with a simple question: what’s an immigrant?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Definition of immigrant
Simple enough, right?
The biggest problem with this widespread xenophobia (and yes,. there’s a word, it’s not always racism because that shit doesn’t care about where you were born) is that people think that others move countries for fun, you know I’m just gonna completely uproot my family and fuck up my children and risk it for a chance at a crappy job just for shits and giggles AS YOU DO
It fucks me up that most people who rage against immigrants haven’t taken a second to consider they aren’t running towards something but rather from something.
And yes, all our families were trying to find a better future for all of us but they didn’t move just because they wanted something good, we all moved because we were somewhere, if not bad then really not-good.
Point is: Nobody wants to leave their country and family behind to try their luck somewhere they know they won’t be welcome where they have no papers or they earn way less than the locals or they don’t speak the damn language
Now, the post is called The Good Immigrant so let’s get back into focus.
Here’s my expert guide to being a good immigrant::
If you are a person who had to move out of your country for whatever reason, with a family in tow, and you manage to get all the proper documents to do so, you may belive you are good, right? No, that’s less than the minimum for some people. You will still be called “illegal” by assholes everywhere and denied basic services!
What else should you do? Learn the language! Of course, you need to communicate with your new neighbors and whatnot, you may speak you own tongue with you family only. Wait, that’s not right. Evidence suggests that you aren’t allowed to talk to your children on that language either what if they get confused?? What if they are at school and speak it and their teacher doesn’t understand? The teacher will understand that it’s another language and praise the bilingual child? Nah, they will assume the kid was cursing and then get mad when they try to explain themselves…. Better not teach your kids that language, what’s the damage? It’s not like they’ll ever want to get in touch with their roots and reclaim their own nationalities. Better pretend they are just like every outsider. Yes, don’t speak your tongue, it’ll only make things harder.
Is it enough? Of course not, you silly immigrant! You need a job. About this job, you possibly can’t expect to earn the same wages as people who have been here the whole time, let’s start you on half their salary, and no bonuses. You employer is already going beyond kind at letting you work for them in a job you are grossly overqualified for and where you’ll most likely never move up from. Just work your ass off and be grateful that they took such a risk hiring you!
Now, with a name like yours there are a lot of people who don’t know how to pronounce it so make sure to get a “normal” name on all your applications. It’s easy, just pick whatever flavor of mayonnaise fits your taste! As long as it’s not exotic you’ll be fine. And remember to do this with your children as well, there’s no harm in taking away more of their identity, they need to fit in anyway!
And since we are talking about the little ones: make sure they understand that fitting in is the key to everything. Don’t tell them to be ashamed of their heritage, rather tell them to be more like their classmates and show them how good everything is here. They don’t speak you language properly, or at all if you’ve been good, but that’s fine, they are only ever gonna talk to you on it. They aren’t really gonna meet the extended family that stayed all the way over there. And remember kids: from now on the words here and there have new and painful connotations, you aren’t supposed to say you miss your home country because… this is your home now! be grateful that so many kind people allowed you the honor of living in such a perfect paradise. Just talk about that place when you are asked and only talk about things everyone knows, stereotypes and the like, maybe mention big cities, nobody cares about specifics, nor will they remember.
Are your kids well and truly assimilated? Good! You managed a good immigrant family, the only thing you needed to do was pretend you don’t remember where you came from, but be grateful that you are here now. Adapt completely to the new culture, don’t go outside the norm, but if one of you traditional festivities becomes mainstream be sure to throw a party for all you new friends to claim they had the authentic experience. Don’t speak your language unless someone explicitly asks you too, and then do only a couple of words so they can comment how much they don’t get it, laugh with them because that’s what good people do. And remember, never get together with other people from your same country because that’s simply not assimilating and would be rude to the entire country who doesn’t wanna feel left out of anything.
IMPORTANT: Never remind other people you may have different
customs/history/religion/traditions/language/morals anything, because they may feel excluded. You know, like you feel all the time surrounded by them? Like you feel when you get so mad you revert to your actual language and everyone finds it just so funny? Like you feel when the weather is so different that you don’t even know how to dress? Like you feel when an important date comes around and you have to get by with five minutes on the phone at 11 pm because of time zones? Like you feel when you finally manage to go back to visit and your kids look at you like you brought them to hell? Like you feel when you look at your family living their lives without you because you were away so long they just learnt to live without you? Like your kids will feel every day because they are immigrants in the country they’ve lived most their lives in but they don’t know the country the are actually from because they’ve never lived in it?
Rejoice! You are a truly good immigrant, and sure, people will still call you illegal, and all nasty slurs but the good people around you won’t because they know you and they know just how much of a normal person you are.
You are a good immigrant.