I still remember my first wallet, most boys do. I was in sixth grade and in a Christmas gift swap I ended up with a bright orange, nylon and Velcro, University of TN wallet. I carried that wallet with me until I was 17.
This weekend the time came for my oldest son to finally have his first one. He now is old enough to drop off at an event and pick back up later, trusted to stay with friends and the responsible adults. This freedom requires a few things like cash, an emergency contact card, a medical ID card, and his United States Passport Card.
Wait, why would a preteen need to have their United States Passport Card on them at all times?
Because my son is a minority, and one that is currently deeply embedded in immigration, ICE, and presidential administration battles. My son is a minority that is automatically assumed illegal until proven otherwise. My dark-skinned son, having a good time somewhere, could easily become a collateral damage target of a random ICE raid and without (ok, honestly even WITH) his citizenship identification things could go very badly very quickly for him.
This is EXACTLY the “show me your papers” concerns I and so many like me shared when the realization hit us that Trump, and his embracing of white-nationalist support, now had real power. The anti-immigrants, anti-refugee, anti-immigration policies of this administration are frightening. They are inhumane. They are dehumanizing. They are wrong. They are also empowering a group confined to shadows for quite some time, a group that would love nothing more than to make America white again. A group that has people in positions of power throughout the country. A group our president refuses to condemn.
Do not tell me to calm down or that nothing will happen. Take five minutes to do a news search and you will see since January instance after instance of people who are citizens, who can prove they are citizens through valid immigration documentation, still ending up in detention and deportation camps. Instance after instance of families torn apart, of attempts to keep “other people” out of our country and to get ones here out by any means necessary.
Do not tell me we are overreacting when we sit down with our both our sons and begin the process to teach them that because their skin is darker and they are a minority looked down upon they have different rules to follow. They have different behaviors they must adhere to, different standards they must meet, and even if done there is no promise they will not end up on the wrong side of a made-up confrontation. It is asinine that in 2017 ANYONE has to do this with their children of any race or nationality. Yet here we are and things will likely get worse before they get better.
My legal, innocent, wonderful, happy, minority sons face challenges my caucasian daughters will never know simply because of their appearance. That is wrong. That is our country right now. My older son has “his papers” at the ready.