Growing up, if I had told my grandma that I wasn’t coming home for Thanksgiving, there would’ve been hell to pay. Growing up, I had a lot of friends who would go to each other’s houses, or even to concerts or football games for the entire day on Thanksgiving. No way. That would not fly with my abuela. In her philosophy, you were coming home, you were going to eat the food, and then you would stay, because Thanksgiving is about family, and to spend time with them is to show them that you love them.
But these are trying times.
President Trump announced that he might extend the March 5 the deadline to end protections for young undocumented immigrants if Congress fails to do anything. Regardless of the outcome, the program is ending, and many families will suffer. This is when I’m reminded of that old Chinese curse, “I hope you live in eventful times.”
There will be empty chairs and uncomfortable silences at the dining table on Thanksgiving in years to come. On the very day that celebrates togetherness and giving thanks, there will be separation, and hard questions. Why was this allowed to happen? Who benefits, and what do they gain? When this shows up in history textbooks, will the public school teachers gloss over the gritty details, the blatant racism?
I can already hear the words “political will” and “hard realities” coming out of underpaid mouths into the ears of naïve students desperate to learn why the country they are forced to pledge allegiance to every morning does not promise allegiance to them. Only when the cards are right and you have been born in the right place and your skin is the right hue of freedom does this country acknowledge your right to take up space.
If I learned anything from my grandma, it’s that there will be hell to pay for this.