My First-Amendment, football-, and Ford-truck-loving husband makes me proud to be an American. It’s a new experience for me, since I grew up feeling like it wasn’t “cool” to be patriotic. But here I am, more enthusiastic than ever about the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The irony behind this is that my husband, Rahul, isn’t from the United States: he moved here from India 10 years ago.
Living in an extremely closed, 5,000-year-old culture can have drawbacks, he says. I can only imagine. But since Rahul came here, Americans have flipped him off, thrown things at him, and told him to leave.
Law-enforcement officers have profiled and detained him without reason. Not knowing we are married, people have said racist things to me about him that can’t be repeated in a newspaper. Turns out it doesn’t always take five millennia for aspects of a culture to turn closed-minded.
I don’t think I could have stayed in a place where I was treated like that, but Rahul insists, repeatedly, that “the whole country can’t be judged by a few ___holes.” He thinks that, at its core, American culture is about respect, diversity, and inclusiveness.
Rahul’s attitude is not unique among immigrants. Every single immigrant I have met who wants to make his or her home in the United States, legally or otherwise, came here with grit, pride, and a higher degree of rugged self-reliance than you often find in those who didn’t have to earn their Americanness. These are the kinds of individuals I want in my community.
They left their place of birth for a reason, and they don’t want their new homes to turn into the places they left. They make me see how full of opportunity our community is, even when the economy is in rough shape. They make me proud to be American.
Shifting how our community thinks about outsiders will continue to take a lot of interpersonal and mental effort, but I hope everyone, at some point, can experience the feeling of patriotism that comes from meeting an immigrant who risked everything he had to be here with us.
Katelynd Faler is a University-of-Wyoming-educated economist for the State of Wyoming who previously worked as a uranium geologist. She and her husband Rahul live in Casper where he works for a natural gas equipment manufacturer.