(ThyBlackMan.com) They come to the US seeking a better life, a better day for themselves and especially their children. They heard that the US was a land of opportunity and freedom. A place that welcomes all those who desire to live free of repression and violence. A place where every man and woman can “sit under their own vine and fig tree and none shall make them afraid.”
They come from countries where poverty, unspeakable terror and violence are the everyday norm. A norm they do not want for themselves and especially their children. Where the opportunity for a better life for themselves and especially their children does not exist. So they come.
They come from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other parts of the Caribbean, Africa, Asia hundreds, thousands of miles. They are told that the US is a shining city on a hill with open arms for the wretched of the earth. So they come.
They come with little or nothing other than their hopes, dreams, prayers and faith
Their journey is uncertain. They are not sure what they will encounter nor the trials and tribulations that stand before them. But they believe God will take care of them. They know if God’s eye is on the sparrow He must be also watching over them. So they come.
I am a child of immigrant parents.
My parents landed in Philadelphia shortly after 1916. They left the land they were born to escape the terror and violence that was omnipresent. A violence and terror which knew no boundaries, no limits. A violence and terror that daily reared its head in unspeakable ways . A terror and violence so cruel, so inhumane that Jesus himself must have wondered if His dying on the cross to free men and women of their sins was worth it.
My parents saw the bodies of men, women and sometimes even children hanging from trees, ropes tied around their necks. They saw the bodies of others castrated, mutilated and burnt alive by godless mobs. Mobs driven by rage, hate, fear, ignorance and just plain evil.
The land where my parents fled had two sets of laws employed differently depending on which group a person belonged. A land where some had rights and others had none. A land where some were considered people and others were treated worse than animals.
My parents’ journey was not as long as those who travel nowadays from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala today but their journey was also northward from the south. Uncertain what the future might hold they put their trust like immigrants today in a God whose son turned water into wine, restored the sight of those who were blind, cleansed those with leprosy, befriended a prostitute, raise the dead and die on the cross that they might have eternal life. So they came.
Similar to what the recent immigrants are facing in the US today, my parents were also confronted with the realities of being a person of color in the US. My parents experienced racism, discrimination, racial and anti-immigrant hatred. The US could be just as hostile, inhuman as the land they had left, but it was better than where they had been.
My parents came from the rural South when the South was basically its own country separate and apart from the rest of the nation. It had its own distinct way of life much different from Philadelphia where my parents settled. It was just 40 years prior to my parents being born that the South had seceded from the Union and formed its own nation. It had fought a war with the North over slavery and had lost. The embarrassment, hostility, bitterness and resentment to the North and its Black residents still existed at the time my parents lived in the South and after. That resentment and botterment ran deep like a river.
My parents were just two of the six million Blacks who left the South after 1916 and settled in the urban Northeast, Midwest and West during what is called the Great Migration. Like my parents they sought to escape the South’s apartheid system of Jim Crow. A system in which not only did Black lives not matter, but relegated Blacks to an inferior, subservient existence void of civil and human rights. They sought to escape the white supremist domestic terrorism of white mobs, the Klan and white citizen group, racism, violence and just un Christian evil. So they came just like the recent immigrants.
As a child of immigrant parents, I stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters who have come and are coming from south of the border, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. I welcome you with arms wide open.
I also pray that God, the God of my parents and the God of you and your parents will bless you. May God bless the people of the world.
Staff Writer; Al Alatunji
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