The recent tweets by the president and his subsequent denials that they were not racist made me recall an incident that occurred during the Fourth of July parade in Woods Hole in 2017. The participants in a course at MBL called “SPINES” (Summer Program in Neuroscience, Excellence and Success), a program for grooming the future leaders of a diverse workforce in neuroscience, were chosen to lead the parade. They were all either training for a PhD or already had a PhD and they had to be US citizens/ permanent residents to be part of the course because it is federally funded. SPINES was very proud of this honor and chose one of their own who was a Native American war veteran to carry the American flag.
Shortly into the parade, a few young people who were marching behind them began shouting “Go back to where you came from!” It was presumably because they saw 20 individuals of color marching together. Thankfully, one of the course directors found the chaperone, reported what had happened, and the behavior stopped.
This had never happened before in this parade, and the only explanation that seemed likely was that the behavior of the newly elected president had made this phrase more permissible. It greatly saddens me that “Go back to where you came from” was recently reiterated in a more public and pervasive manner.
Those of us who are not part of the white majority but love the US have repeatedly been exposed to this phrase. Let’s realize that essentially all of the US population are immigrants, except the Native Americans. That makes “Go back to where you came from” even more ironic, given who was carrying the US flag in that parade in 2017.