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Dear All The Mothers, But Not Mine

flickr/Raziel Janeway

By Lashelle Johnson

The Est. collected open letters on Sessions, familial separation and the current administration’s response to asylum seekers and immigrants — good grief our collective heart! — to publish on a dedicated landing page as a kind of evolving pastiche of opinions and concerns, anger and empathy. Resistance is vital.

Dear Mothers,

Not mine.

My mother was allowed in the country without questions — an infant in her arms. My mother was given a green card and told to go forth and prosper in the American Dream. She knew only elementary English.

My mother got a job quickly. She stayed with the same company for decades and rose through the ranks. Bootstraps. My mother had a salary; not extravagant, but enough to take care of me.

My mother became a citizen 17 years after she stepped onto American soil — never once afraid of deportation in the interim. My mother was naturalized and no one was excited but us. A quiet assumption: She was American. Like them.

A “good” immigrant with auburn hair and seafoam eyes. A model immigrant for posters hanging in U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices.

My mother is white.

I am brown.

Brown like the mothers who are seized at U.S. borders. Mothers who cannot move so freely through the world for fear of having their children ripped from their arms as they await trial for crimes they did not commit. Brown like the mothers seeking asylum. Mothers who want the same safety for their children my mother provided me. The same chance afforded to my mother as she arrived in a new country. I am brown like the mothers in holding cells, wondering if their children will survive in internment camps.

My mother’s whiteness afforded me the safety to grow up in her arms, not a cage. My mother’s whiteness afforded me protection from a system that criminalizes mothers who look like me. I am often plagued by the idea that if I were my mother, trying to do what is best for my child, my story would not be so kind.

So, Dear Mothers:

You deserve safety.
You deserve respect.
You deserve humanity.

You deserve to live a life like my immigrant mother.

Mothers, I love you.