To my fellow immigrants of color:
Documented. Undocumented. The shocking and devastating outcome of this week’s presidential election leaves us afraid, vulnerable, and uncertain. But even in this time of hopelessness, we must remember that we are powerful and resilient people.
You see, I’m what you call a “1.5 generation.” The struggles of both the journey and acculturation to America are not stories I heard from my parents or grandparents. They are my lived experiences. I know what it means for a family to make a calculated decision to leave everything and everyone familiar for a better future – because my family did. I’ve seen what it means to take on a job at a fast food restaurant, despite having a college education and a prominent status in your own country – because my mother did. I know what it means to lack mastery of the English language but still have the thirst to learn – because I did.
I also know what it’s like to own a piece of the American Dream. I was accepted to nearly every college and graduate school I applied to. I have worked in Congress and have met both President Obama and Secretary Clinton. I have learned to speak English with a neutral American accent, peppered with just enough business jargon, to navigate the Ivory Tower.
I live in this chasm between privilege and dis-privilege.
And from this unique vantage point, I am sure of one thing: we people of color are resilient. From slavery to colonialism to Jim Crow, we always rise. Yes, the rhetoric of the incoming administration is not for us. But this is our country as much as it is of the 59 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump. We came to this country because we believe in the ideals and values of America.
While this election meant to disempower us, we must not accept and we must not retreat. This is the time to get activated and begin the process of building a country that is inclusive and reclaims the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To do this, we must debunk the narrative about immigrants and share our stories and insert our voices in the political discourse. Let us build a new future and a new America from the ground up: neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, state by state.
As a starting point, I want to showcase the diversity and strength of the immigrant community. If you want to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America” – William J. Clinton
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Yordanos is the Founder and Curator of Immigrants for America, a story campaign to showcase the diversity and vibrancy of the immigrant community through individual stories. Yordanos is also an Associate Partner at a national venture philanthropy fund where she focuses on K-12 education investments. Yordanos enjoys writing and contributes to the Huffington Post and Bold. Yordanos holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science, Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Florida, where she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. She also has an M.P.P. in Business and Government Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.