Donald’s campaign put out a new ad. Let’s take a look:
Here, the refugees aren’t brown nameless people. They’re not children washing up on coasts. They’re not mothers and daughters and fathers and brothers. They’re not even dangerous terrorists (though, that’s the implication given the recent events in Chelsea). No. They’re candy.
While they’re candy, we’re the decision makers. We’re the human holding the bowl of Skittles. We’re the hand choosing whether or not to take a handful. We’re the consumers.
And the “Syrian refugee problem” is ours. Ours to control or handle or benefit from. Ours to suffer. Because this is all so hard for us in this continent, right?
But are we not Skittles too?
By making Syrian refugees into an “other” so extreme, we stop thinking of them as people like us. And that’s a defense mechanism. We don’t want to think that we could possibly be in the same dire circumstances.
The sympathetic of us say, “Wow. I don’t know how they do it. I couldn’t live like that.” But that assumes they can. It assumes they have some sort of super endurance. They must have something that we don’t have. And by thinking they’re super-equipped to face extreme circumstances, we think they’ll be ok. They may even be ok if they stay there. They’ve known war, right? It’s the Middle East, after all. They know what they’re doing. They’ll be fine.
This defense mechanism keeps us safe in our thinking that we could never go through such horrible war…after all, we weren’t made for it. We don’t have what it takes like they do.
It reminds me a poem by Warsan Shire. “Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body one second and then next you are a tremor lying on the floor,” she asks.
She continues: “All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun.”
If they’re Skittles, we’re Skittles. And stability is frail. And we can’t act like being born in privilege or living in safety makes us any different than those born in war.
“I’ll see you on the other side.” Shire ends it.