I grew up fully aware of the sacrifices that my parents made for me to have the privileges that I grew up with. I saw first hand the way that they were treated as second class citizens in their everyday lives and by the greater American system. They worked through that so that my sister and I could have more options in life. I was called on to translate and navigate unfamiliar systems. I also saw right away how many of these systems were setup to deliberately exclude people who had less. American hypocrisy at it’s finest.

In becoming my own person I knew that it would be up to me how I wanted to exist in the world. How would I be responsible for my self, my family, my community? How would I make that happen and play the two-faced American game at the same time?

The answer became clear as I took on new jobs and developed relationships in adulthood: I would do the best I could with what I had, and I would never play the two-faced American game. Ever.

There is a destructive idea of America as a ‘melting pot’. This assumed that the best thing is for all of us to meld together into the homogenous soup of the dominant culture. We can all see clearly how shitty that dominant culture can be.

The pride of these last several years of American politics for me has been to see that folks are generally willing to take responsibility for themselves as individuals and to take pride in taking up that space. Whether that is constructive or not – AT LEAST IT’S OUT IN THE OPEN.

The best thing we can do is to disrupt the status quo, not assimilate. Don’t tolerate less than respect for your reality, and vote to make change in the system so that it respects you and others who are different from the dominant culture.

DAMA ALIADA: A series on HOW to be an ally and advice on making racists rethink their bullshit. DONATE to Black Lives Matter.

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