Ours is an immigrant existence, here in America, whether we want to admit it or not. This morning I am thinking about Haiti, which of course we’ve most of us pushed to the back of our minds because we are thinking about Egypt.
This morning I am thinking about Haiti because I am listening to Edwidge Danticat’s short story “The Water Child”in which the protagonist is a Haitian immigrant working in a hospital in New York City, sending money home to her parents in her native island.
So many of us so-called “Americans” (by that, I mean white people whose “people” have been here awhile. We think we are the “originals”) pretend we are separeate from these people in distant lands and their suffering.
But the distance is a hair’s breadth.
They are our brother’s mother.
They are our sister’s cousins.
They are the family of our neighbors, the people who draw our blood, the people who rescue our spinning tires from the snow. Inside they are us, further flung.
They suffer sadness. They are tired of running on the wheel.
Home is immediate and home is nowhere.
They were born a child and will die old if they are lucky.
What else could be more American than that?