I became a citizen of the United States in 2010. I have been in this country since 1993. It took me 10 years to become a legal resident, and 7 more to be a citizen.
I remember, several years ago, I was talking to some friends about how me and my family celebrated Thanks Giving. Being from Chile, I had to learn the meaning of this American holiday and how it was celebrated. Believe it or not, other countries do not care about what holidays the United States celebrates or its history.
I was about to tell my friends that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving as most Americans do, when a very rude person, completely out of nowhere, just busted out loud “WELL, IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, THEN GET THE F_ _K OUT OF HERE“.
I was shocked. I would have thought that a country that lets you burn the flag as a sign of political disagreement would let me, little old me, finish a sentence. Life in the USA has been extremely better for me that it ever was back in Chile. Only the rich live the way I do here. And I’m just a middle class person.
In retrospective, I wish I had had the presence of mind to say something like…. “No. Stop. You are misunderstanding my meaning. While there are several things that I do miss from Chile, food and people, life is better here. Here I can say and do almost whatever I want. Here I can speak freely of any topic I wish. Here I don’t have to be scared for my family. Here I can agree or disagree with everyone and everything. So, as you can see, if YOU don’t like what I have to say, you can get the flip out of here yourself.”
It is not easy to be an immigrant in the United States. I get discriminated all the time. Funny, but terrible really, I get discriminated by regular folks for being Latina, Hispanic, a woman, a mother, my accent, and some ordinary ideas.
Being a citizen makes me feel more secure and sure of myself. I watched a PBS show about the United States Constitution that really helped me understand a few things about my rights.
I wish that “rude person” had let me finish my sentence that day. She would have learned that “we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving like most Americans do. We eat a turkey, which we bake in the oven, butterfly style. This way it takes a lot less time to cook. My dad would spice it up with several condiments of all kinds. We would then have several salads and cooked potatoes. After lunch, we would watch movies ALL DAY LONG, “picking” at every scrap of food left from the feast.”