Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sharing Our Stories

I've held back for so long. I've tried to figure out the best way for my voice to be heard. And then the Immigration Ban came along. I can be silent no longer. 

My family immigrated here from Poland, many of them refugees from a tumultuous time in Poland. Unrest was widespread as Russia controlled part of the area, and borders continued to change between Russia, Poland, Germany, Austria, and more. From the research we've done, it appears as though many of them came here in the early 1900s, from about 1903-1913 for the most part.

My Great-Grandparents, immigrants from Poland
My family came here seeking asylum, seeking what they hoped would be a better life. They were forced to leave loved ones behind in order to do so. And this all came before both World War I and World War II, where things would become even more volatile. 

Loved ones who were left behind in Poland were lost. We know that my great-grandfather's sister and her husband were killed by Nazis, simply because they were Polish. 

In later years, we know my great-grandmother refused to speak of her family back in the Warsaw, Poland area. When one of her daughters won a trip to Poland, she begged her not to visit or look up family (for fear of putting them in danger.) To this day, we know very little of the family connections we have in Poland.

My Great-Grandfather
My great-grandfather immigrated here in the early 1900s. He worked as a carpenter and miner in North Dakota, Michigan, and Wisconsin before settling down in Chicago. 

What if there had been a ban on immigrants back then? What if we disallowed certain nationalities or countries from sending us their refugees? What if, for all intents and purposes, one man declared war on one particular religion? Oh, wait...

Yes. We must take action and make our country safe, but to what end? Sadly, many of our terrorists are "homegrown" or come from countries not outlined on the recent Executive Action banning immigrants. And to specifically ban refugees from one particular country blows my mind. Do we need to take further steps to increase the safety of our country and our people? Yes. But I believe doing it in such a "blanket" way will only bring more problems to our doorstep.

We need to know these stories. Bana Alabed should be a household name. She's a 7 year-old peace preacher who has managed to escape the horrors she lived through in Aleppo. How can we say she's not welcome here?

We must also resist the urge and fight against the danger of a single story. We all have stories to tell. Pay attention. Listen. Resist.

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