The past few months have left me stumbling, sometimes with tears streaming down my face, sobbing helplessly. There were many moments when I found gratitude, peace, joy and connection amidst heartbreak, questioning the future (my own and the world’s), and what I would find on the other side of all this in myself. What would be left of connections, systems, and the lives and dreams we have painstakingly built, piece by piece.
And then the police brutally murdered George Floyd, highlighting how much change is needed in this world. I was lost at sea, horrified and stunned.
As an immigrant, I chose to come to the US. Because it seemed like a great place to be, a place with different kinds of people and attitudes coexisting, where you can find culture, art, and intellectual curiosity in its amazing cities. A place with beautiful, vast landscapes to explore. A place of excitement and growth.
I didn’t really grow up with racism, though I understood racial prejudice growing up in Asia. Racism was something my grandparents and great-grandparents had fought against the British over, and won the fight in a magnificent show of civil disobedience. (I’m remembering the 9 year old version of it, which is how old I was when we left India for the Philippines.) It’s a chip on my shoulder in the world, but it was relatively small. Until I moved to the US.
I remember remarking to a close friend during college that I was becoming more and more aware of racism, and I wasn’t sure if it was because I was getting older and more observant, or if it was because of my time in the US. My friend and I agreed the latter likely had a significant impact, and now I firmly believe it did.
As a teenager in Hyde Park, Chicago, I was part of a vibrant community that I absolutely loved in all its facets. Barack Obama had just starting his political career. I felt so much hope for my time in the US. I knew it was going to be amazing despite its challenges.
Over the past four years I’ve been left questioning if I made the wrong choice, if I chose the wrong country. Family members have bluntly told me I did. Being an immigrant and a person of Indian descent comes with its burdens in the US, but it also comes with the freedom to know that I chose to be here, and I can choose to leave if that’s what I really want to do. I built a life here from scratch, I can do it again somewhere else.
With that thought, however, I’m also reminded that I’ve lived here longer than any other country in the world. This is the place that feels most like home. I’ve worked hard to become a part of this country’s fabric and rather than running away, maybe I have a responsibility to see the opportunities for doing the right thing.
We need to change. This is the time when the pain has, once again, become unbearable and with this destruction and chaos there is an opportunity to get a fresh start, a clearer understanding of what needs to be done, and do better.
I hope we’re all able to find some peace, compassion, and growth as we crawl towards the light at the end of the tunnel. The darkness is always temporary, my experience tells me this. This is temporary, and will pass.