What does it mean to be an immigrant in today’s America? As an immigrant, I know I have never looked over my shoulder as much as I have in the past year or so. In spite of immigrating to America a month before 9/11, I felt safe and welcomed. As a brown person in America, I felt secure. I had instances when someone told me how lucky I was to be in California because I would not be safe elsewhere. This conversation happened as I asked someone in a bus stop what that bird was. He answered “sea gull” and offered words of warning on being brown in America post 9/11. Did I fear for myself or my family- No, because I felt safe. This was a one off situation that I could care less for.
Fast forward to sixteen years later, a green card and sixteen years on the American soil- I never thought I would be looking over my shoulder as much as I do now. I never thought I would witness the current state of affairs here. With every terrorist attack or every gun massacre, I sit on the edge of my seat praying and hoping that person was not an immigrant. Why? because I am scared that would create a new law banishing immigrants, a new travel ban or a new immigration policy. In spite of being a green card holder, I feel less secure than I felt walking the streets with a visa stamp on my passport as an American Alien.
I was eighteen years old, an immigrant from India and a new American Alien. As soon as I stepped foot on the American soil, I was stamped as an alien. As an eighteen year old, I did not know why in an instant I was called an alien. Hollywood movies had added fodder to my idea of what an alien would look like, and I looked nothing like that. I did not realize how big of an moment that was. That Alien number allowed me to live in America, have my American adventures, and eventually become a resident of that place. What happens when an eighteen year old is forced to move continents? An Alien in America from America Deconstructed follows her journey on the American soil, her dreams and desires, her struggles and above all her journey to fulfilling her American Dream!
As the world was going through major changes- Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States of America and immigrants and refugees were being cornered, America Deconstructed has been trying to get published. When we began this little project our motive was simple- we were not trying to change the world, we were hoping to show a glimpse into the immigrant world- our world. We wanted people to know the intricate details of being an immigrant beyond visa stamps, the sacrifice, the humor, trials and ultimately tribulations. Did we want you to sympathize with them? Absolutely not! We just wanted you to join us on this little ride called immigrant life.
The last few months changed the focus of our book. We went from writing a book for entertainment to realizing this book had to be published now. We realized America Deconstructed could show immigrants in a positive light beyond the laws and policies. We started a crowdfunding campaign to gather pre-orders so publishers can be interested in our little project. We have been told to self publish and we could use Amazon to do it easily. We want this book to be published and receive the attention it deserves. Please click on the link below and pre-order this book.
It was my first semester at San Jose State University, California and my sixth month on the American soil. I was meeting one of my classmates at the library to help her with her Math. I walked into the library and saw her stand at the elevator. She greeted me with a hug. As we hugged I hear her make kissing sounds. I clearly did not feel the kisses on my cheek. I looked back wondering who those kisses were intended for. I did not see anyone behind me. I pretended to know exactly what transpired but I was confused.
I met her few days later again and the kissing happened again. It was around the time when Paris Hilton was all over the television with her “It’s Hot” line. As I was watching Entertainment Network, I saw Paris Hilton “air kiss” another celebrity. I had my Ah-ha moment at that instant. I had been air kissed! Did I blush…absolutely not! In fact I spent hours pondering why anyone who had no associations with Hollywood decided to air kiss.
As the holidays are upon us, we are especially thankful to our followers for joining us and supporting us through this journey.
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I often catch myself referring to India as home in spite of living in America for over fifteen years. In the fifteen years I have lived in America, I have visited India twice which in total amounts for probably a little over a month of the entire duration. As immigrants in a foreign country, beyond the legalities and the paperwork the hardest aspect is feeling at home in the place you immigrant to. Home is often a security blanket for most people on good days and especially bad days. It’s knowing you have family who will hold you and see you through the bad. I was fortunate to have immigrated to America with family. I have encountered several 20-21 year olds in college who immigrated alone and often miss the comforts of that security blanket. As immigrants, forging a sense of being home in a new country is often the hardest task. In spite of having family with me, India has continued to be my home. It is the inexplicable that makes India home for me. It is friends who don’t need words to sense how you feel, family and sense of belonging that makes India home for me.
As the holidays are upon us and we celebrate it with friends and family, I am especially thankful for the family and friends I made in America who make it almost home.