Earlier this week the US celebrated National Immigrant’s Day. The week before, I found myself referring to my sons using a term, “boychick” — and also found myself wondering where that term came from. It took me a few days to remember that “boychick” was an American Yiddish term of affection my grandmother used to use – one she had learned from her parents who immigrated to the US in the early 20th century, and one that is a blend of the English and Yiddish words for ‘boy’.
On National Immigrant’s Day I thought a lot about the term “boychick” because it epitomizes how everyone in this country is a product of immigration – everyone has a story of how their family came here. For one in seven Americans, the story of immigration is a first hand story, one that they personally experienced, often leaving lands, people and cultures they love. For one in four children in the US, it is a story of a parent who came to the US to make a better life. For many of us, the story dates back many more generations.
This National Immigrant’s Day comes right before an election that holds promises and fears for all of us. It comes at a time when our country deeply relies on immigrants and at the same time is advancing policies that are harmful to immigrants and threaten the health of US born individuals. It comes at a time when our interconnectedness with humanity across the globe has been made clear by a pandemic that has affected all of our lives.
This National Immigrant’s Day is a reminder of how voicing our opinions through our electoral system is critical for the future of our country. My grandmother impressed upon me to never take voting for granted – as she reminded me, her parents never could. Like her Yiddish terms of endearment, her voice will be echoing in my mind when I cast my vote on November 3rd.
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