The excerpt below was contributed by Marilyn G.
"I was about 11 or 12, washing my hands in the women’s bathroom at my mom’s job when I experienced racism for the very first time I had acknowledged. Two Caucasian women were talking and one of them made a comment to the other about the Timberland sneakers I was wearing, as if surprised that I could somehow afford them - not knowing I already knew plenty of English. I’ll never forget that feeling because truly, only my father knows how many hours he had to work, literally under the sun, in the heat- to afford them.
My parents were self employed and successful back “home.” They instilled in my sisters and I at a very young age that we could also become successful with hard work and humility. Like all immigrants, they simply wanted a better future for us, despite my mother having to work long hours at a McDonald’s and my father, working in the summer heat in construction. I vividly remember my mother never fully unpacked her bags, let’s just say it wasn’t an easy adjustment. But she sucked it up- and so did my father.
Almost 21 years later, here we are. Living the “American Dream” I hope one day we can wake up from. Sure, my sisters and I got an education and managed to get decent, corporate jobs; I even got to call myself a Flight Attendant for a major US airline. Although that was a huge accomplishment for my family and I, I can’t help but to wonder just how “far” we’ve gotten as a country.
50 years ago, I would’ve never been able to become a Flight Attendant because I wouldn’t have met the requirements of being no more than 130lbs and because I am older than 25 years old. So if these requirements are a thing of the past, why is it that we are still fighting for equality in human rights? Why are my black male friends being targeted?
It’s truly mind boggling to me that SO much could have changed in this country for the better, yet we still cannot seem to agree on basic human rights.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always watch the news. Social media is my source of news. I remember thinking to myself one day, shortly after George Floyd had been MURDERED- “is this really happening?” I cried watching that video and it reminded me why I sometimes avoid watching videos like that. But first, WHY are there even videos like that?!
The reality of it is, I feel extremely helpless and I know I’m not the only one. I have loved black men and some of my best friends are also black men. The thought that it could’ve easily been one of them, hurts and angers me beyond words. The fact that innocent children of other immigrants have to be separated from their parents like savages and have to live in questionable conditions, also hurts and angers me beyond words. I am not a mother, but it doesn’t take one to see the fear and the pain in those kids’ faces. The pain and anger is truly so overwhelming that I will also admit, I too have been part of the problem at times.
I have stayed quiet when I could’ve spoken up. I’ve often confused incompetence for ignorance. I have at times, subconsciously, acted privileged. I don’t know where we’ll be 50 years from now but what I do know is that I want to be able to say that I did all I could, starting now."
It's about time the American Dream to be redefined. Our hope for our country is not only that we can be seen as a place of economic opportunity, but as a place of liberty. To be free from not only economic and tyrannical oppression, but from discrimination while pursuing that opportunity. But it starts with society. Our collective voices and demands can and WILL drive change. But we have to speak up, and now.
The Equality Coalition Blog | The Coalition Speaks: A Series on Inequality
#TheCoalitionSpeaks is an initiative that gives a voice for people to talk about how they process, experience, or deal with various forms of #inequality. These stories are the subjective experiences of our supporters and expose a variety of emotions that accompany the experiences surrounding issues of inequality.