Years ago, Dad left a genealogy book out on our coffee table. A dry text printed from a typewriter, it took three decades, Dad’s passing, and lots of anti-immigration chatter to appreciate the significance of being an 11th generation American.
I was here before the United States.
I’m a descendent of John Leavitt, a 1634 immigrant to the Massachusetts colony, public office holder, landowner and deacon of America’s oldest church standing today near “Leavitt Street” in Hingham, Massachusetts. So I’m also entitled with 385 years of white privilege.
Lovers of capitalist competition welcome immigration for its diversity of ideas. Diversity makes any plant or animal species less susceptible to non-native invasions, dilutes diseases and restores life quicker after disasters. Overcrowding isn’t America’s innovation, as too many harm all of Earth’s natural resources. All Americans are immigrants who pushed out native peoples. National border crossings are less important than restoring the ecology and Native American rights.
Maybe we should have a national holiday to appreciate every family’s immigration. So many people are out there still struggling to find a better home like your ancestors’ and mine. Not everyone’s family story gets neatly bound in a coffee table book.
— Michael Leavitt