Hearing President Trump say this of other politicians gave me a flashback of when it was said to me.
I have heard this phrase less than a handful of times in my life, all of them lobbed at me. Typically it is due to my presence or something that I have said upsetting someone around me. It has always come when I am the sole obvious melanin minority in the room. I have always had fun with this because I am from Kansas City, smack dab in the middle of the country. My family going back two or three generations can say the same. And prior to that it gets hazy because… you know… slavery. There is a possessiveness that some people bear in regards to being born on American soil. Which is if not fair, expected of humans at the least. Worth saying, this is never impressed upon themselves when compared to Indigenous cultures, but that is a topic I would need to research in depth.
The world I was born into looked at The Civil Rights Movement not as textbook history, but something I could ask the previous generation about living through. Legally, I and mine are seen as equal. But there are pockets of society that would disagree. If they had their druthers, that would be completely overturned. As that is unlikely, they are content with ever encroaching limitations until we are as good as returned to a state of servitude.
The media landscape is frustrating to me. Those for Trump point to each and every instance of him being correct, those against point to every time he is wrong, with both ignoring the valid work of the other. It is hard to have your voice heard if you aren’t joining one of those choirs. Thankfully, this was easy enough to verify. The president made a tweet about four congresswomen. Only one of the four was a naturalized citizen rather than being naturally-born, but they are Americans all. “Go back where you came from” rings as xenophobic to me. Essentially ‘This is my America, and you aren’t welcome in it.’ It also smacks of a sense of superiority, that I am somehow ‘not in my place’. And a man saying this about a group of women has even greater implications.
I will give the president a positive due: He wound up being right about Puerto Rico’s government corruption. This comes with a caveat. I look at Trump’s opinions as if I were boiling spaghetti. There is the method of testing if it is done by throwing a strand at a wall and seeing if it sticks. He tends to throw the whole pot, water and all, at the wall. Sure, some stuff sticks. But it is quickly washed away by the water (which can be likened to the immediate media response of anything he says). There are likely many other strands that did not and were not going to stick. And the one strand that winds up adhering to the wall after all this is what he points at as his being vindicated, even if it falls off soon thereafter. And then he just starts up a new pot and perpetuates the cycle.
I am not sure how many people watch the animated series The Boondocks. I need to find the source that said this, because I strongly agree with it, the show is simultaneously a love letter to and a sharp critique of Black culture. Case in point, when Obama became president in the show, there was a sentiment that was cranked up to eleven about being to act a fool because “my nigga O-beezy is running things now”.
Real life does not need to be constrained by story lines. The way that Trump makes off the cuff comments is hazardous. To borrow a colloquialism, his “keeping it real” vindicates people who really agree with outdated interpretations of what he says to indulge as they please. Nazis have been go to bad guys in media as “human, but disposable” for a long time. But now they are not festering in the eaves but rather enjoying open tolerance.
And this is my problem with The President of the United States espousing this opinion. His words carry weight. Depending upon where your viewpoint is on social progress, this a step in the right or wrong direction. But to me, he sounds as racist and xenophobic as the men that told me to go back where I am from. The President he is, I remain with ever growing proof that he is not a good person. At the very least, he is not good for and to people like me.
I want to end this with what I shared in a thread on this very topic. It may overlap with some of what I already said. I may not think much on this sentiment, but what I do is held solidly.
…if I trace my family line back, I reach a dead-end around the time of slavery. I am American because I have nowhere to go and wouldn’t know where to go even if I could. Even a genetic test would not be helpful. It would tell me how much of my physical being came from a place, but give no story or context of the who, how, and why, nor if it was matriarchal or patriarchal as is of import in some societies.
However, those that typically make that cry [to go back where you came from] can go to Octoberfests, Irishfests, and all manner of “old world” celebrations because their family stories have survived intact since that time.
It is funny… Those that know “where they came from” could safely go back to their ancestral homes with a connection to the place actively shut the door on anyone presently seeking a better life.
We are all American. Naturalized and Natural Born. There is a lot that needs to be fixed in this country. We have to work together to do this. Or, more to the point, I have to. I have no place to go back to. This is home for me and mine. I will work with anyone that, in their ideal world, will hold me as an equal.