03 July 2006

Go Back Where You Came From

“Go Back Where You Came From”
Yesterday, my mom phoned to tell me that her sister, whom she has not seen in 45 years will be visiting from Australia in September.  After she told me about her older sister and great stories from her own childhood, she told me about an experience she had buying cigarettes.  My mom is a senior citizen.  She lives in a rural area, and does not have the eyesight to drive.  So she walked to the gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes.  She was paying cash for the cigarettes.  The clerk asked my mom when she was born.  My mom told her, figuring the clerk could not see my mom was well over 30.  Then the clerk started putting the information into the computer when my mom stopped her.  My mom was just buying a pack of cigarettes and paying cash for it.  She did not want her personal information in their computer system, especially with the scare they had with the veteran information being stolen…and my dad is a retired veteran, so they had to pay money to have their credit watched.
When my mom told her that she did not want her personal information in their computer, the girl told my mom, “Go back where you came from.”  My mom thought, where?  Cleveland?  But my mom knew she still had a strong Greek accent after 42 years since she married what she considered to be a very handsome American sailor whom she fell in love with, conceived children with, and became a citizen of his birth country.
She even received a plaque from the U.S. Coast Guard thanking her for her service when my dad retired, since spouses of military do sacrifice.  Yet, some ignorant clerk at a gas station had the audacity to tell my mom to “go back where you come from” just because my mom did not want her date of birth entered into their computer system.
The only reason my mom was in that town was become the place they used to live in took their home because of “eminent domain”, and the city decided what the house was worth, so my parents received enough to buy a trailer and moved to the area my dad was born and raised.
I was born in the ‘60’s, and I recall my mom dealing with this kind of ignorance in the ‘60’s & ‘70’s.  When I used to ask her about it, she would tell me not to worry about it, that it was a “grown up thing”.  She was very good at shielding us from prejudice and taking it all upon herself, teaching us not to hate.  She would say, “It is ok not to like something, but never hate.  Hate is like a root that once it gets into your heart, will grow and hurt you.”
In the ‘70’s and ‘80’s we went through desegregation, and people started to unite and become a people instead of different “races”.  Now, it is 2006, and so many people forget we are one race:  homo sapiens.  We are all human.  The world is not “black” & “white”.  We are all individuals with wonderful shades of the rainbow.  
My grandfather, who was part Iroquois, and had a red complexion, was not allowed into a restaurant to eat, as my dad told me once, because they did not want Indians in their establishment.  My grandfather though was where he came from.
So if Native Americans are not welcomed, and legal immigrants are not welcomed, who is?
I think a huge problem is that many people forget we are all the same race, and the difference is that nature has changed us to adapt to environments.  Still, we all have souls and spirits that need to be nourished.  Our bodies are just the book cover.  There are wonderful pages beneath the layers of us all.  We just need to take the time to open the pages and read.

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