I like to keep things easy breezy over here on the Highlights Along the Way channel. I have never been very interested in politics. Much to the dismay of many family members, I have been a registered Independent for quite some time. Until a year or two ago, this sassy pants could keep herself out of just about every political debate that crossed through my social media feed of choice. Now, not so much.
I have learned a lot in the last couple years. I’ve been humbled and embarrassed by how little anything mattered to me until now. Raised white and middle class I was under the impression that racism wasn’t a thing, at least not a thing anymore.
I learned a little bit about myself and the world we live in when I married a Hispanic immigrant. Because Harry is so extra, I’ve been able learned even more. See, my husband is a Hispanic immigrant who is also half Ukrainian. My husband has a “White” name and is fairly ethnically ambiguous when it comes to looks. That doesn’t change the fact that he and his family immigrated here when he was only seven years old from South America. None of them spoke a word of English.
Many people don’t know he is an immigrant or that English is his second language. Some of the things that people say to or in front of Harry when they simply assume he is white is kind of terrible. If you’ve said something racist or borderline racist in front of him and you are wondering if he noticed; the answer is yes, he totally noticed. I’ve been known to say things before thinking, so I empathize hard. Hot tip though, when you realize who is in your presence, saying things like “Oh, but you are one of the good ones.” is not at all a compliment and actually EXACTLY what is wrong with everything else you already said and are trying to back pedal. He says he is used to it. That isn’t to say it doesn’t bother him, it just is what it is.
In an effort of full disclosure, the person I am talking about in the above paragraph is 100% me. I said stuff like this. I thought stuff like this. I was born and raised here and had zero understanding of what immigrant families go through other than what the structure around me taught. It wasn’t accurate. I’m sorry for being misguided. I’m white, so at some point my ancestors were immigrants. Unlike my husband’s family who came here legally, mine didn’t. That is the weird irony in the ignorance. Anyway, just to be clear and honest, I am learning here too. I am so thankful I married someone who I can learn so much about myself from…. it isn’t always pretty.
For those that it matters to, they immigrated here legally. For those that it matters to, his dad worked two jobs to support his family. And for those that really need to know, yes, they were on food stamps for a few months shortly after they moved. For those that it matters to, his entire family learned English and have been upstanding citizens that have contributed greatly to our country and society as a whole.
The first several years of our marriage we more than qualified for low income housing. We never took it. I’m not saying anything badly against anyone who does, looking back I think we were too hard on ourselves. But I have heard several people who don’t know our situation say things about immigrants only wanting hand outs. I dunno, that just hasn’t been what I have seen from my husband, his parents, or his brother.
This is my husband. He’s college educated. He has a masters degree. He is fluent in English and Spanish, and learned a reasonable amount of Russian shortly before we adopted our immigrant son. He’s a really good dad and husband. He’s quiet and introverted, but a good friend to those lucky enough to make it into the circle of trust. He’s funny. He’s dependable. He stands up for what is right, but isn’t a pot stirrer (that’s MY place in the family). Just an all around decent guy, who came to this country poor.
This immigrant who spoke no English when he arrived was a model student. He’s worked full time since he was 15 years old. He paid his way through college and grad school. He’s worked as an artist, designer, a college professor, and currently is a front end web developer for a large, well known company in San Diego. He is constantly scouted by companies that want his level of awesome on their payroll. So I suppose my husband is a job stealing immigrant.
And because we apparently have too much time on our hands, we made these smart mouthy t-shirts.
Anyway, America’s already great. Harry is the American Dream and I’m a little disheartened by the news more days than not.
*steps off soap box*