I grew up in Roman Catholic school and my mom would always tell us to leave “praying to objects” at school so my opinion on Colin Kaepernick not wanting to honor words he doesn’t believe in and laud a material thing is “so be it.” A lot of civilians and some military members are outraged because they believe he’s ungrateful. To the civilians, he’s utilizing his rights appropriately– through liberty and justice. To the military members, I better not ever catch you running inside when Retreat comes on.

Granted, it’s about respect but the guy doesn’t want to laud a song that was written by a slave owner. He feels disrespected. One major mistake is wanting someone to believe in your perspective or opinion. In the history of everything, nothing purposeful ever came from someone believing in an opinion outside of their own just because. If I could back up Kaepernick just a little bit however, the foundation of America is just a little messed up. We literally call this the land of freedom as opposed to the land of the Native Americans because that’s who the land actually belongs to. We kinda carry on with our lives with an air of entitlement talking about how great that Walmart on that sacred land is. But I mean that’s politics. I shop at Walmart. Eve ate the forbidden fruit and so now things are political and messed up and I shop at Walmart (my teachers constantly reminded us how perfect the world would have been if Eve never ate the fruit).

To conclude, symbolism could be ineffective in any form. The Ice Bucket Challenge brought attention to ALS disease but, as it was happening, I wondered if the fun sweeping the internet was reminding anyone that the association was warranting fundraising. The New York Times reported a doubled spike in donations through the duration of the challenge so the challenge definitely helped. In other circumstances, direct action is the best way to influence change. I neither undermine nor reinforce most movements because I’m afraid of hopping on a bandwagon. I also believe that there’s a solution to most things.

My grandmother was orphaned by the time she turned nine. She worked labor off the slums of Haiti and mothered two children with no plan for either of their lives. One day, she woke up and decided, “I’m going to America.” I mean, how insane is that?

Aziz Ansari couldn’t have said it better, “Pretty amazing thing our parents did, right? They came to this country. They maybe didn’t know anyone; maybe didn’t even speak the language, and they figured it out. Very brave courageous thing. And I feel like we never sit down and thank them for it. And we should! Because that’s such an amazing thing, ya know? For someone in your family to, at some point to just be like, ‘You know what? Fuck China. Let’s get out of here. Let’s go.'” And that depiction in the second episode of his Netflix show Master of None.

Don’t quote me on this story because she told it to me at the start of her strange renal failure but my grandmother tells me she left my mother and uncle behind first and worked in Manhattan before going back to get them and settling down in Connecticut. My mom tells us she was terrified her first day in an English-speaking, fast-paced, congested American school. Imagine the simultaneous anxiety attacks you’d undergo being thrown into a packed whole new world. Imagine being a parent having to just randomly figure out who you’d communicate with regarding enrolling your kid into school, let alone how you’d communicate it.

Anyway, my mom was jumped her first day of school in America for not knowing how to speak English. She didn’t know how to fight either and her pestering older brother (my uncle Iegor) locked her out of the house so she took off running before ending up in a alleyway cornered by a bunch of girls I imagine resemble the Gross Sisters. The story ends with her biting one of the girls ears until the girl bleeds and running home. Seventeen years later, as the terrorist attacks occurred forty-five minutes outside of our backyard, she would make light plans to move back to Haiti. The moral of the story is that the idea of my grandmother and my mother going from one terrible situation to a situation they weren’t even sure would be better is very sentimental for me. You have to have the endurance for it but emigrating is doable if where you are right now isn’t promising.