Optimal Outfits was started with the radical notion of helping educate my high school on how to not dress like a slob. A group of guys had this dumb idea to start dressing well, and then to explain to others how they did it. By most conventions, Optimal Outfits is a fashion blog and would be considered a “hobby” of mine. I have lots of interests ranging from nerdy interests to slightly less nerdy interests. I don’t write or talk about any of those because they don’t fit with the purpose of this blog – makes sense. However, recent events have forced me to rethink that. The following article is not about clothes, fashion, or “stunting on the plebs” but it is about something important to me, and I hope you’ll take the same to peruse through it. -Sid
When Donald Trump was elected President last November, I will admit I did not think too much of it, or at least not as much as I thought I would. “You win some, you lose some,” was probably what my inner monologue said that night. Former President Barrack Obama later would say, “Peaceful transition of power is what makes America great,” and I believed him. You can’t have everything you want in life and while I didn’t like Trump, at least the internet had hundreds of jokes about him to keep me entertained for four years.
On the campaign trail he talked “a lot of nonsense” according to my monologue. Presidents don’t stick to their campaign promises anyways, right? Barack Obama only kept about 75% of his campaign promises so maybe the ones Trump didn’t keep were the ones which were the most outrageous, I thought. He hasn’t “drained the [Washington] swamp” like he said he would, but whatever, Presidents have named oil tycoons to run the country since the Rockefeller times.
What caused me to change on Trump, was yesterday’s Executive Order, banning the entrance (in many cases return) of legal immigrants, visa holders, and permanent residents from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Libya. I wish I could say we have never before outright banned the entrance of immigrants from certain countries, but we’ve done so maybe half a dozen times in the past. Key word there being “past.” The passing Immigration Act of 1965 ended numerical limits on entrance from people of other nationalities and since then the American population has felt its amazing benefits.
As a child I was a complete loser: I probably read a greater number of books K-12 than I had total number of friends. History was always my favorite topic to read and I always incessantly asked questions about it. Most of the time my parents were either A) not present or B) got annoyed with my nonstop babbling so I often to went to my teachers for more information. Of course, this too did not work at times. If you never asked your 5th grade teacher why “freeing Jews” was not a reason America entered WWII, you were missing out.
Note: The above poster references this poem.
Sometime in 9th grade I read The Kite Runner, by Khaleed Hosseini and later that year learned about early 20th century American immigration; ideas started connecting in my head. Prior to yesterday I had read about Islamophobia, thought about racism a bit, and then nonchalantly gone about my day. Yesterday, the shit finally sorted itself out.
There is no “future” for what we’re seeing, there is only “now.” Right now, we are rowing our boat down a river filled with rapids and blindly believing we can navigate through it. We’ve tried in the past to do what we’re doing now, and it has never worked. There is no such thing giving up “some rights.” When we concede a little bit, the jaws of fear will clamp down and refuse to let go. We’ve already given away our decency at airports, internet privacy, and now they want us to give away our right to free movement. It’s too late to save the former, but it doesn’t have to be that way for the latter.
If a few dozen men with improvised explosive devices exploding in some far off continent is all it takes for us to sacrifice what makes us American, then we’ve lost the war before dropping the first bomb.
My family is one of those who benefited from acceptance into your country. Your people gave my parents, who once were two kids born in the middle of bumfuck, third world shithole, an unrivaled education and employment opportunities that no other country can match. They took me along for the ride and now I follow their same path. We’re not citizens; we’re here because you let us. That’s not to say getting here was easy – mind you. Over summer I mentioned to a good friend of mine I had to go to Chicago for a day to get an Italian visa and she stared at me blankly because she didn’t know what a visa was. To have an American passport is to have VIP access to the world: you book your tickets, pack your bags, and swipe your passport at immigration. For the rest of the world, we have to go through immigration. I won’t go into the details of this because of the complication and because one statistic perfectly describes how hard it is to enter your country. 90, 000 students from India filed for student visas in the fiscal year of 2016. Barely 4,000 were accepted. 4.44%. Repeat this for every country in the world. I am lucky to be here. By most models I should not be here. Yet here I am.
For those of you who made it this far, I am sincerely thankful for you reading it all. Earlier today there was a protest at St. Louis’s International Airport and the moment I found out I knew I had to go.
If you’re looking for ways to help, I implore you to donate to the ACLU. Their lawyers have been fighting for the past 48 hours to free the Americans trapped in transit because they were in the air when President Trump’s EO went into effect. I have the link to the ACLU’s donation page here along with some more information about what it is they do. My protest wasn’t much, and to be honest, neither was my donation, but what little I can do, I did. These people (many of whom are legal residents of the United States) are just as American as you and I, despite having a different skin tone or religion. They all want a better life for themselves and their children. Decades from now, depending on which direction this nation chooses to go, I can look back and tell myself, “I did what I could; I did what was right. I was not part of the silent majority, nor the Twitter-warriors; I was a part of the people on the streets making themselves heard.”
Some time soon I intend on writing a second part to this post where I detail the wonderful people who I met at the airport along with their stories. Many of them had no reason to be there, some of them could have gotten into trouble for being there, but they all believed in the same ideals I do – the ones I hope you all do too: “liberty and justice for all.”
– Thank you for reading