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As thousands of migrants walk to America to escape the violence at home, I’m disappointed that a president who’s the son of an immigrant cannot see himself in those people. But I’m not surprised. After all, Trump told us from the very beginning that he saw Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. 

But I AM surprised by what I hear from some of my so-called “woke” brothers and sisters; the ones who tell me that the immigration argument is not mine to have, because America is not my country.

Well guess what? America is mine as much as it’s anyone else’s. In fact, I have a bigger claim than most.

I come from the people who stuck their hands into the red clay of Georgia and brought forth the goldmine that was cotton.  I come from the people who tilled the soil of North Carolina and made a mint from a leaf called tobacco. I come from a people who farmed the land of South Carolina ‘til the fields exploded with produce. My ancestors worked for little more than stripes on their backs and pain in their eyes.

So yes, America is mine.

I come from the people who designed Washington DC and then built it without getting paid. I come from the people who invented southern delicacies from the scraps of the slaveholders table. I come from the people who made Negro spirituals of escape songs, and made rhythm to go with our blues, and made Hip Hop when they took our instruments and who never forgot our drums. And American pop culture is based in our music

So yes, America is mine.

I come from the people who made the air conditioning you turn up to high. From the people who designed the traffic lights you speed through. I come from the immortal cells of Henrietta Lax. From the wrong side of the tracks. From whip scars on our backs.

So yes, America is mine.

And every dollar I make is for the ones who never made a penny. Every breath I take is for the ones whose breath was cut short. Every ladder I climb is for the ones who had the rug pulled from under them. And on Tuesday when I walk into the voting booth with my black head held high, and put my black finger on that button, and cast a vote in my black interests, it will be for Emmitt Till and Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd and Sandra Bland, for Martin King and for Malcolm X and for everyone else who lost their lives in the struggle.

Because I come from the people who built this country.

And yes, America, is mine.

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