“If you don’t like it here, go back to the Philippines.”
How many of us have heard some sort of variation of this? Never mind the fact that many of us are American citizens, or were even born in this country. The fact that our families are new to this country means that people view any criticism we might make about this country as disloyalty. Yet it isn’t disloyal to criticize your country or your government.
America is a country founded on freedom and equality. One of our most basic rights is to speak freely. Throughout history, people have worked to make this country even freer, to give rights to those who have been marginalized, to make America greater and more welcoming. It is not un-American to follow in the footsteps of trailblazers like Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. and the founding fathers themselves.
Too many people expect us to come to the United States and be grateful for our opportunities without question. Any criticism is viewed as hostility towards this country. We are told if we think it’s so bad here to just go back to where we came from. The implication is that where we come from is worse, and we would be crazy to leave so we should be content and keep our mouths shut.
But no country is perfect. We can simultaneously love a nation and want to improve it. Fighting for freedom and equality in the United States makes us not traitors to the country but patriots who want to make the world a better place. And isn’t this what America is about? People coming together from all over the world, pooling resources and sharing ideas, striving to make this country one where anyone can live freely regardless of where they come from?
It is not just the right of every person to speak against injustice, but their duty to do so. Things can only improve if we have the courage to speak out. And we must speak out if we feel anyone’s inherent human rights are being infringed upon, whether that person is in the Philippines, or in America, or in some country across the globe that we have never even visited.