On being welcomed

When you’ve been waiting for something to happen for a very long period of time, you are bound to be at a loss for words and wildly confused when it actually happened. You are supposed to feel immensely happy or immensely sad. But instead you find yourself devising your game plan for the fifty-two scenarios that can happen in your head. This is what too much uncertainty does to you: always having to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. In computer science, it is easy to know a worst-case complexity for your algorithm. In real life, it is hard to digest the fact that the worst-case scenario for your years of hard work is possible deportation. 

From Trump becoming president, to the handling of a global pandemic, the United States gave its people a fair share of issues to ponder. America is still a dream for so many people, a motivation to pursue a better future for so many kids in Vietnam and other countries. That’s why I feel unsettling saying any of this. But to me, and many of my friends, America has become either an unfinished dream or a finished mess. 

I hate having to break it down this way. Don’t get me wrong. There are people who are still able to pursue their ‘American dream’, through hard work, great luck and a little bit of ignorance. Yes, I said a little bit of ignorance, because the only way for a person in current America to get on with their regular day is to filter out bits of information. And I don’t blame most of them. How else do you stay sane when all you see on the news is this person fucked this up, that person lied about something, this person shot that person, this person wants to chase everybody else out ? It’s hard to live with this much injustice and go on about your own life pretending everything is fine. 

But there are so many other marginalised individuals who do not have the privilege to filter out any information, because those information directly affected them. A change of a sentence in a policy or a proposed bill can either mean the right to work/study in America or ICE raiding your house seeking your family members for deportation. The undocumented community in America has experienced this with the cancellation of DACA a few years ago. And now the international students community is facing the same issue. 

It’s hard to speak about social justice without feeling unfair or depressed. I am not a motivational speaker, much less a person worthy enough to give out advice. However, I want to speak from my own experience. I think, if you are heartbroken that America is not welcoming and forgiving as it used to be, you might be setting a wrong scenario in the first place. The United States has never been welcoming of people from around the world. It is welcoming of possible opportunities for its nation’s enhancement, of possible contributions to its own good, and in this case these contributions come in the form of human labor. That sounded terrible isn’t it ? That’s just how the world works, other countries do this too, and there is really no-one to blame for this. Except for capitalism, maybe. You can almost blame anything on capitalism if you are looking for a correct and half-hearted answer. 
International students are a little bit luckier. International students have to thank capitalism for its lucrative appeal to businesses. High education institutions are suing the Trump administration for the change in F1 status, in pandemic circumstances, mainly because without international students’ tuition, the financial situation in these colleges and universities are looking dire. After all, colleges and universities in the United States are very much commercialised. If you think an US college wants you to be their student for your grit and hard work only, you are incorrect. 

If anything, I am much more of a de-motivational speaker. But I’d rather be aware than be ignorant. I’d rather be wrong and vocal than wrong and quiet. If I’m wrong I want to be corrected. I believe in the value of knowing and being aware. It is up to you to decide if something is good or bad or neutral, based on your personal values, but it is your responsibility to learn and absorb as much negative information as positive ones. If you want to feel welcomed, to feel like you belong, truly belong, not only in the US but anywhere really, I think this is the only way. Ignorance is not bliss in the real world. 

If you are Asian, or identify as one, chances are you are probably only less privileged than your white friends. You are more privileged than most minorities. You can speak out and be respectfully corrected if you said something wrong. You can ask for something and the worst that can happen is getting a ‘no’. If that doesn’t incentivise you to speak out against injustice, I don’t know what will. Now that you have witnessed and been directly affected (negatively) by a change in policy at the government level, you should feel even more compelled to speak up, to put up a fight for people who are and were in the same situation as you are. 

Advocate passionately for BlackLivesMatter. Stand up against ICE for your chance to stay. Act upon seeing injustice. Educate yourself on difficult topics. Participate in the movement. Then you will be truly welcomed. 
Also, three things you can do right now: