I Really Do Care, Do U?
by Madeline Anscombe
Drenched equally in ice cream and sweat, I saw Ellis Island for the first time in the second grade. I have always loved history, my first book purchase was Joy Hakim’s The History of Us which I spent religiously reading for years. By the age of six, I already understood and was enamored by everything Ellis Island stood for, and one day my dad and I took the train down from our house to visit. As a grandchild of three immigrants, much of my parents experience and my life has been shaped by my grandparents pursuit for a better life. My grandmother and her siblings braved the Atlantic Ocean as a young girl to come from Poland, my maternal grandfather escaped the potato famine in Ireland, and my paternal grandfather left England to start the statistics department at a prestigious college. As the product of their journeys, my parents met at The University of Virginia Law School many years later. My sisters and I are here in part because of Ellis Island and the promise America holds for a new life. Since my trip, each of my sisters have made their own trips to Ellis Island when the time came. It has shaped each of us and has helped us understand where we come from. During my trip I was mesmerized by the videos depicting immigrants coming to here to seek out the American dream. When I returned back to my house in Massachusetts I dug out my history book and started to memorize the engraving on the Statue of Liberty, an immigrant herself, vouching to accept the hungry and poor in search of a better life.
It is no secret to anyone that Melania Trump’s “I Really Don’t Care Do U?” jacket worn boarding a plane to meet immigrants in a detention center was not a reference to these words but rather an awful, disgusting oversight by her communications team. While Truth + Dare is perhaps not your first stop to read about the evils of our immigration system, we are all here because at some point our families chose to care. Whether that was to escape famine, war, threat, or to simply improve our country, our staff is here because of the bravery of those who came before us. The plight of my grandparents is the reason that I am who I am. I am proud to be a product of the melting pot in the same way that I hope to be proud as an American. But today, and recently, I have not been. It is hard to see pictures of children and families who want to gain entrance to our country for similar (and many times significantly more devastating) reasons as my grandparents and have them treated inhumanely in actual concentration camps. It devastates me that our president is so afraid of “becoming Europe” by letting in refugees that he wants to restrict the rights of prospective immigrants even further. Words cannot describe the levels of xenophobia, racism, and hatred that we are all seeing right before our eyes. Truthfully when asked to write this, I was hesitant because in no way can I capture all of the evil that this country, one that made me so proud one day when I was covered in ice cream, is perpetrating at this given moment. It is not new and I have come to see beyond the idyllic version of history I once believed, but it is still just as upsetting.
Perhaps all I can tell you is this; that I am proud of my heritage and to come from immigrants. I hope that Lady Liberty can find it in her heart to see in other directions, move past Western Europe and protect the hungry and poor of the middle east and those coming to our southern border. And while most of us cannot fathom traveling through dangerous conditions to seek out a better life, I hope that U care to empathize with them and see their bravery. I hope that U are able to see that this issue extends beyond reuniting families at the border and that we need tremendous immigration reform. We must all care enough to vote in November in the midterms and then again in 2020. I hope that U care because without U, things will never change. I Really Care, Do U?