Make America Friendly Again

This has been a scary year. Regardless of the election outcome, the state of affairs around human relations is saddening.

People feel empowered again to more openly discriminate against others. I hear horrible stories of the way immigrant friends are being treated.

Many people want to change this trajectory. The problem? They don’t know how (other than voting of course).

Many want to stop complaining and focusing unproductive energy on hating the haters and discriminators. Instead they want to do something concrete.

When you come across immigrants here, they aren’t sure if you are one of the millions who want them to return to their native country. To assure them that you are welcoming and to offset this discrimination, try the following:

1. Smile. It’s simple but effective.

2. If someone is struggling with English, speak slowly, clearly, and avoid complex metaphors and idioms. Learning a new language is difficult! If you’ve never done it, try it and you’ll empathize.

3. Learn more about immigrant experiences and why people come here. For many it’s to escape unsafe countries or provide better education for their children. Many face the heartbreaking inability to visit a dying mother, father, or sibling in their native country. Imagine that.

4. Get to know immigrants on a meaningful level by volunteering to teach English with organizations like Intercambio, or others that enable you to connect directly across cultures. These programs that unite communities are models for the world when it comes to positive human relations.

Not all immigrants are the same, but most who come to programs like Intercambio are here to learn, work hard, participate, and give their kids educational opportunities they never had. If you want to make those folks feel welcome here, walk the talk and take action today.

This post was published by The Daily Camera on September 7, 2016.