So after an overall sentiment of love, admiration and appreciation for what the United States in general and Fort Wayne in particular have offered us, the panelists, in terms of opportunities for success and a generally more welcoming atmosphere/environment than where we came from, I had a few "tough love" words to share with the audience at the conclusion of the "celebrating immigrants" panel discussion.
My tough love revolved around how we need to stop kidding ourselves with this "we are a post racial society" or "we are an inclusive community" and start doing some real grunt work addressing our conscious and subconscious biases. How although I appreciate everyone's presence, we need to stop patting ourselves on the back for having attended such a meeting and go have the candid conversation with the friend or family member who refuses to attend such events yet still paints a much different and often negative image of immigrants. I also pointed the fact that our panel is a skewed representation of immigrants (all educated with well paid jobs, mostly men) and that we must not forget that immigrants include those whose backs are just as broken as their English, who strive to make a better life for themselves and their children and LOVE this country even more than many of the ones born in it who take it for granted.
Many people (immigrants and non immigrants alike) expressed their appreciation for what I said, stated that they needed to hear it/it needed to be said and applauded me for speaking up. Beyond that appreciation however lies a question that was more implied than directly asked which is "why wouldn't more immigrants have such uneasy conversations with people and call out the many biases that are expressed toward them?"
I'll venture a grossly generalized answer to the question
I believe it to be out of respect and appreciation. Many don't want to seem ungrateful or disrespectful to a country that welcomed them and afforded them an opportunity. Most, if not all, do not have the sense of entitlement that comes with being born here (not bratty type entitlement but entitlement in the sense of rights that are enjoyed from birth and not gained at an older age).
This type of gratitude often supersedes many of the problems or issues that they encounter due to the "don't bite the hand that feeds you" attitude.
This type of attitude is universal across all immigrants (I said I will grossly generalize) regardless of educational achievement or financial success.
This type of attitude also creates a vicious cycle as often the gratitude is mistook for meekness and airs a sense of inferiority that is, unfortunately more often than not, met with arrogance than humility.
This type of attitude needs to be changed if we, immigrants, are to be treated, as our adopted constitution guarantees, equally.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark