Ten years ago, if you had told me that anyone in Edmonds would have accused my family of being “illegal,” I would have laughed at you. I would have said that doesn’t happen in Edmonds, people are nice here. Yet it’s happening more and more these days: the white supremacist fliers, the “Build That Wall” cookies, the noose, and the threat spray painted on the store window of a minority business owner.
I am running for city council and I have to state clearly at the beginning of almost every speech I give: I have deep roots in this area. My uncle deployed from the Whidbey Island Naval Base to Vietnam when he was just 19 years old and did two tours of duty to earn his citizenship. He sponsored my parents to immigrate here and I was born in America. I may look foreign, but I am just as American as you. I have just as much right to be here as you.
It doesn’t particularly hurt me, that my family was accused of being here illegally: I’m a lawyer, a college professor, and a political candidate. Not many barbs will pierce my thick skin. But I hurt for the children of color in Edmonds who may also be asked the same question: “Are your parents illegals? Are you supposed to be here?”
I’m angry on behalf of community members like Mr. Jay Lal, whose store was spray painted with the words, “Go Back.” Ten years ago, if you had asked me how people of color are doing in Edmonds, I would have never said that you need a thick skin to get along here. I would have never thought that the politics of dehumanization and hate would permeate down from the national level to our beautiful little town on the Puget Sound. But here we are.
So what are we going to do about it? Are we going to pretend that these are “isolated incidents,” or are we going to state loudly and clearly: Hate has no home in Edmonds. I vote for the latter.