Being a child of an immigrant

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.

The 'I'm Tired' Project highlights microaggressions in everyday life
  Photo from Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.de/pin/410672059749781516/
 

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.

References:

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

6 kommenttia artikkeliin ”Being a child of an immigrant

  1. Johanna

    It was really nice to read your thoughts and it gave me also a new perspective. I have also been an immigrant but from different reasons and still I have had the experience of being called by names, its funny how people always connect calling names to dark skin color but I have experienced it the other way around as well. In some countries its not ok to be fair skinned and blue eyed. But it was nice to hear your real thoughts behind your lovely personality thru this blogpost.

    Vastaa

    1. Nimco Sareye

      Thank you for your comment. I’m not trying to belittle or dismiss your experience of being discriminated because of your skin color. Please understand that our groups topic is Am I home. Key word being I. This post is mostly about me being dark skinned in this country. MY experience.

      What I see around me is dark skinned women being ashamed of their color because they are “ugly”. Yet there are white girls getting tanned and it’s ok. There are moms who have to tell their daughters on daily basis that them being dark skinned is not ugly. There are moms who have to watch their daughters bleach their skin just to fit in this society, yet are still not accepted. I have to tell my little sisters and cousins that they are beautiful no matter how dark they are.

      On top of that. They just don’t get discriminated (since we are in Finland) by Finns. They also get discriminated by their own community. Many have the mentality that the lighter you are the beautiful you are. This is why it’s always referred to being dark skin. This doesn’t just happen in my community it happens in many others.

      Sorry to hear about your individual experience of racism. It doesn’t matter what color you are, racism is not okay. I’m interested to know in what/which countrie(s) has this happened?

      BR, Nimco

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  2. Nitika

    I really liked reading your personal thoughts and experiences on this topic. I agree and can relate to many thoughts that you shared in this blog post. I have also been called names and heard comments implying that ‘I don’t belong here’ at times, sometimes even in Nepal just because my ancestors come from India, which is funny because Nepal IS my home country. And to this day, I still don’t know how to react to those comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

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    1. Nimco Sareye

      I feel you sis. We are not alone in this and fortunately we can support each other and prove these people wrong. I also have the same problem with Somalis. That is just how people are. They are never happy and try to find a way to hurt you. Sometimes it’s just better to ignore them even though it can be hard. Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience with me. Stay strong.

      Vastaa

  3. Sandy L

    Thank you for sharing! I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve had to go through here. I cannot relate or probably never fully understand since I haven’t experienced it (bullying part yes but being an immigrant is, I believe, a totally different experience), I can only imagine how bad it must have felt like, especially growing up. And I honestly feel so bad for that. Always keep your head up. You go girl!

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    1. Nimco Sareye

      Thank you Santra for your comment. Bullying is not okay and I’m sorry that you had to experience it. Thank you for sharing. I wish the best for you and hope that you also keep your head up.

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