2003: I am 16, President Bush has declared war on Iraq.
I am half-American, going to school in Brasil.
Hallways are full of teenagers talking about BLOOD FOR OIL
We sit at bars, teenaged mimicry of adulthood
Drinking beer and whisky drowned in soda talking about war
I become used to the idea that America is at war.
I become used to hedging about how American I am.
2005: I go to college in America.
I am used to America being at war overseas
I start to learn more about America being at war at home too
I meet people who are suffering from it.
People who were given a different set of rules for how to live
I learn which set of rules I operate within
I still call myself Brazilian
2009: Obama is elected
When he wins, people are crying, hugging and bottles of bubbles spill
His victory feels like our victory
We learn that Obama is not perfect or magical
But small victories still happen
The different rules seem to start being SEEN
The President has operated under different rules
He knows they exist.
I move overseas.
It becomes easier to say “I’m from America” than to explain
My entire life story
I don’t have to defend being American
We debate issues – everyone knows what’s happening there, after all
But we all have the same issues
And sometimes we can praise America
We can acknowledge the good things happening there
And Obama and Michelle are inherently good
We can respect their grace and personhood
Because they seem to respect our grace and personhood
2016: Trump was Elected President Last Night
I am almost 30 and an immigrant living in Denmark
A socialist country.
I find myself saying I am Brazilian again
The explanation is shorter than the feeling of alienation
From a country I cannot understand
And a President I did not vote for
And cannot respect
And the America that he represents
Which stands so far away from everything I have ever believed
Which is poised to undo and destroy progress
Which seems incapable of basic kindness and grace
Which seems blind in the face of injustice and inequality
How did we get here?
Where do we stand now?
Where do we go from here?