I wrote this essay on “the squad” for The Guardian:
On Monday, the best of the United States of America was on full display.
In a moving press conference in Washington, DC, the four progressive congresswomen now known the world over as “the squad” – Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashid Tlaib – proclaimed their profound support for each other after enduring blatantly racist abuse by Donald Trump. And they did more. They redoubled their commitments to improving the lives of all the people in this country.
It was a remarkable moment, an urgently needed example of what leadership – real leadership, leadership that is principled, intelligent, courageous, and resolute – looks like. I hope Nancy Pelosi was watching.
What I saw at this press conference was an inspiring tableau of today’s America, four women of color offering moral and political guidance to a nation that is being goaded by its commander-in-chief to embrace the schoolyard taunts of a wanton bigot.
Not that much prodding has ever been needed to activate racism in this country. If your skin is any darker than the peel of a honeydew melon, if your eyes have ever been compared to the shape of almonds, if your name has been called unpronounceable and changed without your consent, if you’re constantly asked “but where are you from from,” if you’ve been complimented for being different than the rest of them, if your faith elicits unsolicited political commentary, if people always seem to want to touch your hair, then chances are you’ve also been told, at many times in your life, that you should go back to where you came from.
I, for one, have been frequently told this all my life, and it happens most often now in hate mail and missives that regularly land in my inbox. In my case, the insult routinely borders on the comical. Never quite sure where they should be sending me back to, my detractors will dutifully resort to some internet research, only to discover that I was born in Switzerland. Somehow, “Go back to Switzerland!” just doesn’t carry the menace that they seem to think it has…
Read the rest here.