Representing diversity

Immigrants made the United States stronger back in the day, and they still do

The author, a Chico resident, hosts a blog ( and a radio program on KZFR discussing homelessness and peace.

I was born and raised in Lawrence, Mass., the City of Immigrants—the nation’s first planned industrial city and home of the 1912 Bread and Roses labor strike. Back then, omnipresent textile mill owners banked on slashing wages, believing that those of different ethnic backgrounds would be unable to organize a resistance.

They were wrong then, and they are wrong now!

My tribe included Portuguese, Serbian, Puerto Rican, Irish, Italian, et al. Growing up, I heard ethnic languages being spoken in the homes of my friends. I remember nearby neighborhoods cast as slums, because they had Puerto Ricans living in rundown multistory flats once inhabited by Europeans in the heyday of the city’s industrial might. A might that peaked in the 1950s.

The Puerto Ricans were wrongly accused of having been the source of all that ailed the city. In reality, the textile jobs were moving overseas along with the prosperity that once flourished, and Puerto Ricans just happened to be the newcomers.

I was proud to learn in my middle school days that America had the world’s largest unsecured borders by a wide margin, and I remember raising my hand with the correct answer when asked what the greatest resource is within any nation.

It was people then, and it’s people now.

Fast-forward to central Florida, late September 2016, in Trump Land without a Hillary sign in sight.

I was having breakfast with my niece by marriage and my soon-to-be daughter-in-law. They shared with me how they became citizens. My daughter-in-law’s dad, from Mexico, entered our county twice before gaining a foothold on the East Coast and raising a family. My niece had a similar story of a dad who fled Cuba on a raft. He, too, raised a loving and caring family, including my niece, who is a medical professional at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.

Immigrants made us strong then, and they make us strong now.

Our hearts beat as one when we learn, live and play together in diverse communities rich in pride of one’s heritage.