To the editor:

Let’s look at the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your hungry...”

For more than 100 years, these words of welcome have invited those with ambition and strength of character to join Americans in the struggle to build our “more perfect union.” The immigrants of the past were not always welcomed, but they became the engines of commerce for this country. They took the dirty jobs that those in the ruling class would not do. We thanked them for being the nurses, caregivers, doctors, truck drivers, nannies, maids, custodians. Our builders and dreamers. Once we no longer saw or heard them as different, we allowed them to succeed. We honored old immigrant families like yours and mine. We welcomed those who now seem to be like us.

I’m just getting started. I haven’t gotten to how we constrained those we considered somehow to be less than us. We kept them out of where we wanted to be. Out of our buses, out of our “whites only” facilities, out of our schools, out of our neighborhoods. The message to Blacks is clear by our laws and our deeds -- “You who are different’ you are not equal.”

When they started to find financial success, we burned their homes, lynched their people, stole their lands, jailed them for the same infractions that the ruling class were allowed. How in the world can a man be considered equal when we can justify stealing their property and jailing them?

I love this line, “all men are created equal.” If they are created equal, shouldn’t we be treating them as equal? Equal implies equal legal rights and protections; equal access to education jobs, wealth and health. Equal implies respect and honor. Equal says “I’ll listen to you and work to understand you.” Equal says, “Welcome my brothers and sisters, we are in this together!”

Join us as we find a new normal. Help us work to create a more perfect union where all people are created and treated as equals..

Betsy Nahas


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