By Surya Rahman || Contributing Writer
Usually, while I am on my daily hunting of some fresh new memes, I sometimes stumble upon some breaking news and wise words. When I logged into Facebook the other day I saw this post, “Nothing should go back to normal, normal wasn’t working”. The same post on Instagram and LinkedIn. This particular post, however, made me feel some type of way. The post was popular for sure, lots of thumbs up and heart reacts. But, I found myself staring at one specific word; normal. I couldn’t quite accept the idea of normalcy here. What are we referring to as normal and how many of us are living that normal life? You might say, you know the usual thing, going to work, taking public transportation, etc. I agree, going to work is essential and as one should do to earn a living. But the answer is not very straightforward for everyone. Especially, for the immigrant workers, going to work is like fighting a 16 hr battle. You either keep fighting or else you lose.
I remember when I first came to America. Seeing my dad once a month was like celebrating Eid once a month. After a while, it became a normal thing. He would come home really late and leave really early for work. We never had breakfast, lunch or dinner together for almost three years. Slowly, that became a normal thing too. For many immigrant families, this is a normal lifestyle. Getting paid less or being denied to government fundings due to citizenship status is also a normal thing. Children of immigrants slowly adapted to immigrant’s normalcy even though we are very aware that it is not normal. We can’t turn to our parents and share our feelings (because that is definitely not the normal thing to do and seeking counseling is a whole different topic).
Maybe this pandemic is a blessing for us immigrants. Maybe it’s not. It’s a blessing because, after almost 9 years, I can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my father and with the whole family. It’s a blessing to know that he has some time to sleep and get some rest. But this sleep is like a student loan, he will have to pay it off once this Pandemic is over. The new normal life soon will disappear.
Maybe after this Pandemic is over, immigrants will face a new Pandemic: the pandemic of fear, the pandemic of resentment. There is a great fear that immigrants in all countries will start being discriminated against. Maybe more counties will be against immigration and introduce more travel bans. After all, traveling was one of the main ways how COVID-19 to spread across different continents. It’s only a time of matter for different countries to close their borders. Racism and xenophobia might spread faster than the spread of COVID-19. I wonder how long will it take us to survive that.
Maybe we should in fact never go back to the old normal. If we have learned anything from the current pandemic, we should see a change. A change in how the system works for immigrants, undocumented immigrants and people at the low socio-economic status. A change that will take early precaution to save the lives of the minorities. It is not a matter of immigrants’ patience and resilience because we have proven these over and over. Rather, it is time for America to prove itself. Because at the end of the day, whether you are poor or rich; immigrants or citizens, we want a normal life. A life where you can grab at least one meal a day with your family. A life where you know you will be taken care of if you are sick. A life that gives you life and the will to live.
Surya Rahman is a Contributing Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.