Why we need immigrants

As a young child, and then as a young woman, I was always surprised by the attitude of my Jewish friends whose parents or grandparents had come to North America years earlier. My mother and father had narrowly escaped Hitler’s Germany for the Dominican Republic, where FDR had asked General Trujillo to accept the unwanted Jews of Germany. My mother and I shared a burning in the belly over social injustice that none of my friends seemed to exhibit.
Is it possible that resistance requires direct experience of injustice? Does the PTSD genetic transference weaken with every generation? Do we need to have direct experience of suffering? Do our children connect with any generation past their grandparents?
I was struck by hearing the stories of American African Americans who had returned to visit the cages their ancestors had endured before being forced onto the ships. I walked in every footstep of The Book of Negroes, as if I had been ripped from my loving family, marched through the jungle, raped, forced to give birth only to have my child sold as property. I still wonder about the indigo dye on my jeans. Did some poor worker earn pennies for that job?
My genetic PTSD can lead me to over-react to perceived lack of caring. I’ve only grown from a bleeding heart radical to a bleeding heart progressive. But the current political clime is pushing me back to my younger self. I just wish my aging body would allow me to defy the cold and walk the walk instead of talking the talk.

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