Thanks to some stellar research by my cousin Ann Biggums Gonzalez, documents show that my maternal family has been a part of the United States since before 1805.
The men who founded this country didn’t have my family in mind, but the universe has a way of changing the narrative, doesn’t it?
My American roots are as deep as the Atlantic, which carried the ships burdened with human cargo, grief and terror.
The immigrant experience reminds those of us who are native-born that we have the great fortune of birth in a country where the pursuit of a “more perfect union” has gone on unabated for 244 years.
Immigrants see all that we take for granted. Some of us are resentful of them and see ourselves as superior, but our being born American was nothing more than sheer dumb luck.
We should be flattered that those who were not born here, think enough of us to want to be one of us.
Even if you’d rather be dead than vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, it still should disturb and embarrass you that some Americans have resorted to flogging the dead horse of birtherism all because Harris is a child of brown-skinned immigrants.
We recently marked the centennial of the 19th Amendment, a movement in which Black women had to fight to be involved and heard. That Harris stands poised to become the next vice president of the United States speaks to the miracle that is America.
It only can happen in a country where laws, talent and achievement still hold value, and the possibilities are limitless.
Being disingenuous in the matter of Harris’ qualifications because of her parents diminishes who we are as a nation.
It’s also nakedly racist, giving power and credence to the ugly, dangerous and primal call of nativism.
It’s a small, petty and pathetic accusation without legal or moral merit. Such willful ignorance serves only to detract our energy and attention from the important matters at hand.
We all should be proud that, with all of our faults — and there are many — we remain a nation so appealing that people around the globe are willing to leave behind the old world and all they’ve ever known for a chance at reinvention, freedom, and a place to share their talents.
Immigrants not only transform their lives, but our own. They have fought and died in all of our wars. They and their offspring have contributed to technology, medicine, finance and culture.
At the turn of the American century, one in five residents of Canton, Ohio, was an immigrant. They worked in the steel mills and started businesses and helped to transform Canton into a muscular little city.
Today, Canton is wobbly, even a little punch-drunk from years of economic struggle. It could use some of the same determination and ingenuity which accompanied those early residents.
As a child of immigrants and a woman of color, Harris’ story could only have happened here.
Regardless of our politics, we can be proud that her story is ours.