Stop Using the "I" Word

Stop Using the "I" Word

I’ve never understood how people stop looking at anyone different from them as a person and start looking at them as an oddity, a “foreigner,” an “illegal.” I have absolutely no qualms with anyone and everyone coming to this country—or any country—from anywhere, myself. People may not think that’s a very sustainable immigration policy, but I’m sure the native tribes who lived here before we did might not think that our own immigration was, either; we’re so often told that our ancestors made “friends” with Native Americans, that we seem to conveniently forget that we wiped out millions of them with our diseases, guns, and slave trade. Isn’t it funny how even after doing that to those who lived here before us, we wish to do the same to those who come after us? I think we could all use some serious therapy.

YES! magazine, one of my favorite sources for positive news, is currently running a story about how they refuse to use the term “illegal” when talking about a person. I absolutely love this quote that they use to illustrate the point: “We have never used a term that suggests some people’s very existence is to be questioned. Whatever your view of immigration policy, all human beings are entitled to respect.”

Yes! That is exactly what comes to mind when people call other people “illegal.” What right does anyone have to deem whether or not another person has a right to be born, to exist, to live anywhere? That reminds me of one of my favorite lyrics, from a Michael Franti song: “I don’t need a passport to walk on this earth anywhere I go ‘cause I was made of this earth.” In the song, he also mentions that every single child is a son or a daughter—we’d do well to remember this, and to remember that no matter where we are from, we were all once “illegal” here—unless your DNA is completely from native tribes who lived here first.

I would add that we need to stop using the word “foreigner” as well (unless while talking about the band, perhaps). It sounds so ugly and is thrust from the tongues of so many people as if it’s a disease. It’s 2010 and high time we stopped thinking in terms of borders and colors and instead in terms of a global community, fighting together for peace, sustainability, and the ability to continue living on this planet together.