Recently my wife, who is from Honduras, witnessed a terrible thing. She was in a grocery store in midtown Manhattan when a well-dressed man in a suit went off on two of the employees for speaking Spanish instead of English. She wanted to film the incident but was too afraid (someone else shot a video that went viral). The man’s language was ugly. He told the two employees they were unwelcome in the US, didn’t belong here, should go home to their own “shitty” country, and that he was going to call ICE to deport them. Thank god in the following days there was an uproar against this man, but my concern is with my wife and not him. She’s been in the US for nearly twelve years but her English is poor and she and her coworkers speak Spanish all the time (she’s a maid in a large NYC hotel). She was naturalized two years ago and prior to that was on a green card. I am an American, born here of Cuban parents, and we have three children. Since the incident my wife is constantly afraid and depressed. She’s afraid to go out, afraid to speak or interact with friends in public. She warns our children to be careful with white Americans, a sad testimony to what is going on in this country since Trump. My heart breaks to watch her grow more and more silent. It breaks for our country, a land of immigrants. Can you please advise me how to help my wife become her old cheerful self. I thank you.
Dear Outraged Husband,
I don’t want to go into a tirade here about the ugliness and hatred that have erupted in our country since the election of Trump, but it’s hard not to. Very simply, the social fabric of our country has been torn apart and people feel free to say the most despicable things. How they live with themselves I don’t know. But collectively we should feel shame for the growing number of incidents — murders even — perpetrated by narrow minded zealots against immigrants, who are not, as Trump would like to suggest, criminals, rapists, terrorists, but more likely hardworking people who just want to take care of their families and get by. My advice to you regarding your wife would be to find someone for her to talk to who could help her feel good about herself. This could be a social worker, therapist, priest or minister, as well as friends who’ve been through similar situations and have some understanding about what’s going on. Getting together in support groups would be excellent for her. There is strength in numbers and your wife could use some fighting spirit. Because we must fight against this heartlessness and cruelty. Children separated from their parents at the border? Uh unh. Such overt cruelty puts a dark stain on the psyche of the whole country and must be stopped. This is the battle your wife is part of. If she could see it in historical context and come to understand that though she’s only one person, she’s important in this battle, she would perhaps learn to see herself as a fighter for democracy. I wish you great luck.
All the best,
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.