Putting American First

I usually try to make my New Year’s Resolutions involve a shift in attitude or cognition. A few years ago I tried to do a better job of embodying Pope Francis’ five powerful words “Who am I to Judge” and sought to ask questions more instead of telling people what I thought (don’t scoff – I know I talk a lot, but I also work on improving how I talk).

Last year I tried to make use of Scott Arizala’s wisdom about unloading buses.

This year I’ve got an idea for my resolution, and I hope to develop it more throughout the year. I read a great article that I can’t seem to find about the microaggression implicit in our ethnic terminology for immigrants to the US. When we call people African American or Muslim American or Mexican American, we are placing an asterisk on how American someone can be. If we switched our language around to put American first, it would allow for greater unity and acceptance.

From talking with teachers I know, an ugly and despicable side of American children came out on November 9th. Students were suddenly able (or willing) to act out the disgusting racism that Donald Trump promoted throughout his campaign. Children of color, children of immigrants, and children who are simply prone to bullying were targeted by their peers. “This is Trump’s America, you can’t sit here anymore” is the kind of sentence I have been told is once again spat out of the mouths of empowered white boys and girls.

I don’t remember the moment I decided Jon Stewart was a paragon of comedic political wit. I don’t recall when I decided to tune in and listen to what he had to say every night. I do know I was upset when he left the Daily Show. I respect him enough to have believed him when he said Trevor Noah would be a valued voice in our discourse. I now know he was right. Check out this 43 minute sit down Trevor did with The Breakfast Club. I was particularly struck by his idea that when someone does something racist, we as a society want them fired/removed/gone. We don’t ever ask what happens next.

My resolution this year is to put American first by working to include anyone I am lucky enough to be around. It is to find ways to reach out to and converse and connect with anyone I meet and to go beyond my Pope Francis’ inspired goal of not judging and instead try to connect with people by putting a dream of unity first. I would like to do my small part to make us more worthy of our motto E Pluribus Unum.


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