Dislaimer: the following rant is meant to sound preachy, though the employment of the second person “you” can easily be substituted with a more sobering “I.” Feel free to do so when reading!
Immigrants, rich or poor, coloured or not, are settlers.
Much like the Europeans who invaded and settled in North America centuries ago, people continue to leave or escape their home countries. Most do so in search of a better life. The direction, I would guess, generally flows from south to north, and from east to west. It’s an era of transitory places. Whatever you may think of the term “globalization,” technology has made travel a lot easier, thus making the world more homogenous.
The irony is that while “global homogeneity” takes place, human beings—individual persons—are more likely to live through a more varied set of circumstances. This results in a more eclectic string of experiences that should ultimately reflect back a single self.
If you’re any sort of an immigrant, chances are that dislocation and outsider-ness characterize (at least in part) your sense of self. The feelings of not belonging to any place, and of being rootless, make up the framework through which you look at the world. Hopefully by applying this lens to your surroundings in both space and time, a unique sense of where you are eventually emerges. Maybe it’ll give you an accurate, perhaps, even original understanding of the land you’ve claimed, a piece of real estate that shouldn’t really belong to you.
Still, the increasingly post-modern era is in some ways an age of ignorance and heedlessness. This affects everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, or sexual orientation. All you need to be an ignoramus is a central nervous system, some limbs, and a crappy attitude. True, because they got here earlier, white people, by occupying strategic places of political, social, and economic power, generally exercise more clout. They’re more likely to be well-off.
But the number of rich and educated coloured folk is increasing. The immigrant class is becoming indispensible for modern, secular countries with relatively low birth rates. You can live a pretty decent and comfortable life now, even as an immigrant (though countless still face systematic discrimination and economic subjugation), especially if your parents did all the hard work, and all that’s left for you to do is kick back and enjoy the fruits of their labour. Wealth means comfort, and comfort can lead to complacency, both physical and intellectual.
It’s important then to remember that, no matter how tough you think your life is, no matter how boxed in you feel by circumstance, no matter how much you cry about the cards that God dealt you—if you live in this part of the world, if you’ve got a family with a steady income to put food on the table and a roof over your head—then, my friend, it’s no use in denying that you’re a resident of this world’s Elysium.
And yeah, like I said, you’re enjoying all this off of the corpses of countless Native Americans, and as the lucky recipients of the “White Man’s” tainted gifts of human “progress.” Your hands may not be white, but they sure as hell aren’t clean.
So, you owe it to yourself, to your family, to those dead Indians, and to everybody else you share this land with to have some understanding of how the world works, of how history informs the present, and of how the circumstances of your life affect the way you see yourself. Still, of course, not all take this seriously.
It’s way easier to be lazy and complacent. It’s feels nicer to dabble in something and have it taste good for a few minutes, instead of actually dedicating yourself to that thing over time to reach a level of serious/true understanding.
To make it more vague: it’s easier to think you’re smart and informed by experimenting occasionally with knowledge. All the while you’ve made no real impact on the world, and have not neutralized your privilege with the kind of risk necessary to make the planet a more just place. Going through the everyday motions is too seductive, while striking out with will and vision means risking what so far has made your life much more comfortable than the lives of the 99% (of the world, really).
New immigrants are just as susceptible to this trap as those who feel more connected with this country. If your colour indicates third-world origins, then all the more reason to identify and change the unjust aspects of privileged societies—societies that have rolled over (and buried) indigenous populations in the same overall spirit that they, at one point in time anyway, colonized their way to become imperial powers.