This Land Is Our Land Too
When I went to the Pride parade in San Francisco, I realized all those people participating were fighting for their rights, independence and freedom, to be who they are. I saw someone wearing a t-shirt with various flags on it. As I walked to him to compliment his clothes I got to meet his friend from Israel, who has been living in the United States for the last 6 years, just like me. As I told her I was from Italy there was no need to say anything else, we looked at each other and hugged. She told me she felt my pain. The pain of leaving a land I finally can call home again. I asked her what she was going to do, she pointed to the ring on her left hand and stopped smiling. I wanted to ask her so many questions, but obviously I could not. We left like that.
Walking back to my friends I realized I am not alone.
There are many others like me that, for economical and educational opportunities, political and religion freedom, or in the pursuit of love had the dream to come here. A dream that had to be rewritten continually and always repurpose. We have dedicated and committed to America. But this has not been enough. People like us can be removed in the blink of an eye. We are scared. I am scared. I am so scared that for the last two months I have thought of impossible and illegal ways to stay. Marrying a guy I do not know, feeling like a piece of meat sold at the market for $10,000. Rushed into studying something I don’t care for. Asking my family to spend more than what we already did for another investment on America.
All of this for what?
Being at pride made me understand I am not ashamed to be an immigrant. I should not hide that. I have been trying to integrate since the day I got here, following the rules and becoming more and more like everyone else. But you know what, I am not. I am international. I am an immigrant and I am proud of that. I am proud of what I have achieved so far and if the government wants to take that away from me, I will bring all that I have learned and more to another land.
This issue is consuming me every single day, making me feel as though I am sinking. I cried, I have been mad, I thought it was not fair, I have felt unworthy to be here. But no more cries for you America. Instead I want to speak up. I want to call other immigrants voices to action. This is not a matter of left and right, it is a matter of policies. My country of origin is Italy, but the country I actually grew up in is America. My dream began when I came here at the age of 16. I fought to be here. I am integrated and so are others. It is important because we all have this characterization of immigrants being excluded from society and peers which is not the case. Look around you, examine your own social circle. There are millions of immigrants just like me in front of you, behind you, and around you. Therefore if you look at the bigger picture, the current immigration policy is affecting all of us.
We have the power to do something about it. This is not just an American issues. There are so many people living, learning, and training in countries where they were not born. I know this happens everywhere in the world, but America especially should be the example of how a successful country was made of a melting pot of immigrants. People go around bragging they have 10% Irish blood, 30% Spanish etc so doesn’t that mean they are made from immigrants too?
We all are immigrants trading one home for another in search for a better life, some of us just happen to leave entire countries and just because someone declared ownership on a land that never belonged to anyone it does not mean we cannot live in it. Borders are man-made, they only divide us physically. This is our land too.
I am not invading your country. I have learnt your language, your customs, changed my name to make it sound easier, celebrated your holidays. I am devoted to your country. But now it is hurting me too much. On this Independence Day I want to get rid of the chains that classify us as dependent to one nation, because as I am not just Italian anymore, I am now also American, so are others.
Today, with my American flag on my terrage-fire escape, I proudly raise my Italian flag as well in the hope that others know they are not alone.