Being told to “Go Back to Where You Came From” is more than just racism

Somewhere in the early 90s, a preteen version of me sits with my big brother at a pizza restaurant in our hometown of Fremont, California. The place is empty, and as we enjoy a slice, a man in his 20s or 30s approaches our table and asks for change.

Young and meek, I looked to my brother, hoping he would take the lead. 

“No, we don’t have any,” my brother replied. Intimidated by the situation, I didn’t look up.

As the man stalked out of the restaurant, he yelled, “Why don’t you go back to your own country!”

My brother and I are descended from Taiwanese parents, but we were both born in California. Based on our birth certificates, we’re as American as that guy—this is our own country—yet somehow, there was a divide between us, based solely on our lack of ‘whiteness’.

As we calmly continued to eat our pizza, my brother informed me, “no one wins from that”—a sentiment that has stuck with me since.

Go back to where you came from.

No one will deny that the phrase is rooted in raw, unabashed, ugly racism. And as if it needs to be said, the man in the story above was white. 

As an adult looking back on the encounter, it has struck me that there was much more than just racism happening there. White men are now, were then, and will most likely continue to be the most privileged type of human on Earth; the most capable of doing what they wish in life, unfettered.

But this man had somehow come up short* and found himself asking two minority children for money. He wasn’t just saying, “My people are better than you and you should go back to your own country.” He was really projecting, “I’m not doing as well as you—and it’s your fault.”

Which brings me to the crux of the issue at hand: white males—people of privilege—who do worse than immigrants, blame their own problems on immigrants. Within this privilege, and thanks to the entitlement that it brings, these men have failed to reach the level of maturity that brings one to take responsibility for their own lives, including both the successes and failures. 

My father came to the US with far fewer opportunities than this man, but achieved greatness—not by ever blaming others for his hardship or failure, but by working his Chinese ass off, getting a PhD from Cal, all while learning English at the same time. 

And that brings us to Donald Trump: entitled, privileged, racist white man living in the White House.

Racism isn’t the only reason Trump espouses the same ugly and offensive phrase as that beggar in the pizza parlour.

It’s the fact that he blames these Congresswomen of colour for his problems. He envies their success and (because he’s a flagrant narcissist) he covets the attention they have won from the public. 

Both the pizza parlour beggar and Trump are one-in-the same: both in their disdain for minorities, but also in their tantrum throwing rage that minorities are, in fact, doing better than them.

Condemnation where it’s due.

I condemn Donald Trump as a racist.

I say this as a child of immigrants, and I say this as a Christian. Trump’s racism is rooted in his privilege and entitlement, and scripture condemns all three. (Lev 19:34, Acts 5:1-10, James 2:1-4). 

But the burning question here is: Where is the unified condemnation from the church? Why do I find that it’s secular moralists who are speaking out against racism, but people of faith remain conspicuously silent?

Why can’t the church unify against racism?

Do you understand the gravity of being called to be a “witness” to Samaritans? Jesus calling his Jewish followers to reach out to Samaritans is like him asking us to reach out to Arabs. 

How can you possibly still be on the sidelines now that the leader of our country—who enjoys unwavering support from Evangelicals and Christians alike—is openly racist; not to mention the children in cages and his refusal to condemn white nationalism?

The moment is now. 

If you are with him, you are a racist. And if you are too afraid to speak out, you are enabling the racism.

To all Americans, I urge you to stand up against this racism from our highest office. This is literally our German moment.

If you have stayed out of politics and deferred to the rest of us to clean this all up, I’m telling you: NOW IS THE TIME. The severity of the situation justifies you entering the fray now.

No matter if you have a faith background or not, I URGE you to openly condemn Trump and anyone who supports him as a racist. It is time to call him out for what he is, because people are suffering.

And no one wins from that.

*I realize that a lot of homelessness is rooted in mental health, and I validate that a severe mental health issue could have completely explained this situation. 

Author: postchristianity

Professional educator, musician, world traveler.

2 thoughts on “Being told to “Go Back to Where You Came From” is more than just racism”

  1. I agree with you 100%. As a gay kid growing up in the south I was always filled with dread when I heard racist spewing their hatred. Firstly because I knew it was inherently wrong and secondly because as an “other” I knew their ire could just as easily be trained on me. The chants from that North Carolina rally made my stomach drop and my heart race as that familiar dread engulfed me. It stayed with me a full day until I saw the video of Representative Ilhan Omar arriving in the airport in Minnesota to chants of “welcome home”. Both moments made me cry for different reasons. The first out of fear and dread, the second from hope and kindness. Thank you for sharing your story and for the kindness you have shown to me all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert I’m so glad to have you as an ally in my cause to enlighten Christians on the heresy within our congregation. Thank you for the shares and your continued support, as you said, we’ve got to hold each other up because it’s an exhausting endeavor.


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