My friend linked me this article about being a child of immigrants. It’s interesting to see how all of us who have immigrant parents, have kind of had the same childhood. No matter where we live at. In this article there were quotes from different children with immigrant parents. One of them stuck out to me:
“A lot of the time, being a child of immigrants means constantly having to defend your place as an ‘American,” – Alex Santana.
This is something that I have been doing for a long time and I’m sure me and Alex aren’t the only ones, and we won’t be. It’s sad to say but some people care about your skin color, your religion etc. As a child it used to affect me and it made me ashamed of being different. It made it hard for me to accept myself. Being called names doesn’t feel good and it affects your mental health. It took years for me to understand that there are ignorant people out there and you can’t make them happy. Ever.
As an immigrant or as a child of immigrant you are used to hearing ” Go back to your home country”. When I was in my early teens, I used to shout back and forth with people who called me names, but as I got older, I got tired of it. You get tired of explaining yourself, telling them that you were born in Finland. You realize that it’s not worth it. They really don’t care about you being born here or coming here young, so why bother.
If my parents had an opportunity to go back to their home country, I’m 100% they would. Any immigrant who could go back to their country would go back. But they can’t for different reasons. Would you stay in a country where you are not wanted and you are abused daily, verbally and/or physically, because you don’t look a specific way? I’m sure not. These people have to be afraid for their children’s lives. They are not safe in their own country and they migrate to another country just to be afraid for their lives again. They can’t catch a break.
I really appreciate my parents for the sacrifices they made to ensure better childhood and future for me and my siblings. I appreciate all the immigrant parents for giving their children more privilege than they had. I appreciate all the people who made me realize that being different is not something to be ashamed of. I really wish that people wouldn’t be a-holes and let people live their lives the way they want to. Why do you care if someone has different religion or skin color? How does that affect your life?
I’ve heard many times that “I was scared” as an excuse. If you are afraid of me why approach me. Some people really want to get a reaction from you and when they do, you are told that they have problems and that you should’ve ignored them. If you are scared of someone you don’t go up to them and start an argument. I’ve been approached by adults many times as a child, who has told me to go back to where I came from. What if an immigrant had approached a Finn child, and the roles were reversed? It pisses me of because people like this are the reason why, children of immigrants are afraid and ashamed to be proud of their culture and the fact that they had an opportunity to be raised in two different cultures.
You know what’s harder? Your parents not understanding why you don’t want to eat certain food in public when in reality it is your favorite food. Why you don’t want to dress certain way, even if you love it. Why you don’t want to speak your mother tongue in public when you would in your house. When you are an adult you don’t care for other people’s opinions, you do you. Let’s add to the mix immigrant parents who had to basically raise themselves and start earning money since the age of 9. These people came from hardship. Do you think people calling them names would have any affect on them?
I had an easy childhood compared to many others. Even though I was called names and it took me many years to accept myself, I had it easy. In my neighborhood I had many immigrant families around me, so I wasn’t alone. I had people around me who understood my struggles and went through it themselves. There are children who get beaten, abused and murdered, because of them being different. So yeah, what I went through is nothing compared to many others.
The New York Times. 2014. Children of immigrants. Whitney Dangerfield, Meghan Louttit and Jeffrey Henson Scales. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/21/opinion/sunday/exposures-children-immigrant.html