Great-grandparents were white illegal immigrants.

Robin Shudak,
Wilkes-Barre, PA

Both sides of my family are Polish, who escaped from Poland the rise of fascism.

Their destination: the US.

My maternal grandfather’s family, who were Jewish, were denied entry.
My paternal grandfather’s family, who were fleeing because they were caught as part of the resistance and his brother was already “sent to Germany,” were also denied entry.
No refugee status or asylum.
But they got in, because to return was death.
Both families, now without homes or countries, thought they could hide out here until the war was over. but the Soviet takeover of Poland made that impossible.
So, as a little girl in the 1980s, I was called a Communist by teachers, and severely disciplined for speaking Polish (which everyone thought was Russian).
Now, we have the opportunity to move back, and are considering it.
Because in our experience, we believe American whiteness also has a pecking order. In our experience, unless you’re a Daughter of the American Revolution or some other vintage of “heroes,” that formed this country or towns in it, you are looked down on.
I can’t even imagine how much worse it is when your ethnicity is on full display, and not just in your last name.

 

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