Immigrant felt no discrimination–until now

Logo for Women's Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro DetroitInternational Women’s Day today gave WISDOM a great opportunity to explore some of its core issues.

Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit marked the holiday with “Coming to America: A Woman’s Perspective.” The event, at the Bloomfield Township Library, echoed WISDOM’s trademark “Five Women, Five Journeys” interfaith explorations. In this case, six women shared their journeys. They came from Afghanistan, the Czech Republic, Japan, Mexico, Senegal and South Africa.

Statue of Liberty draped in flag

On long journeys that often took them through other countries, the women brought to their new home loyalty, ambitions and talents. They bore hope to build lives here for themselves and their families. And they are succeeding.

Seemingly everything is different in the United States, from religion and race and politics and voting right down to the way we recycle.

Some panelists talked about when they have ever felt discriminated against in the United States. One, who came from Japan, said she had not had any bad experiences–until quite recently, on a journey around her neighborhood.

In the past few weeks, she was on a walk with her dog. A women and her son were approaching from the opposite direction. The boy seemed to want to pet the dog. The dog owner was preparing to tell the mother it would be safe for her son to pet the dog. When about 10 feet separated them, however, the mother and boy stopped. The mother asked, “What are you?”

Confused, the dog owner hesitated. The mother elaborated: “Are you Chinese?”

The surprised dog owner said “I am not.” Realizing that this was about the coronavirus, she asked, “But what if I am?”

The mother told the woman not to be offended.

On another recent day, the Japanese woman went to dinner with her husband. When they sat down at a table, a couple sitting at a table next to theirs got up and moved to a table farther away. The panelist said she wanted to say something, but did not. After a while an Asian mother, father and two children came in and sat at a table next to the couple’s new table. The couple moved again.

The woman said she just wants people to get to know her as an individual, not by a label such as immigrant or Asian.

And the boy who would have liked to meet the dog … how will he grow up?

“100 Questions and Answers About Immigrants to the U.S.” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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