History Redux – The Separation of Children and Families

Human Wrongs Watch

By Martha R. Bireda*

25 July 2018 (Wall Street International)* — The current policy of separating children from parents seeking the asylum in the United States has caused a moral and political uproar in America. Protests, marches, political opponents demonizing the other. This crisis has turned the United States into a moral and political battleground.

The policy of separating children from parents
The policy of separating children from parents | Photo from Wall Street International

 The separation of children from their parents is the historical policy practiced by the United States for children of color.

Enslaved African children were torn from their mothers as they given as gifts to relatives and mothers were sold to a new plantation. These mothers wept the bitter salty tears that could never dry as they were never united with their children.

With the exception of a few Christian groups, there was no national or moral uproar. Native American children were torn from their mother’s bosoms and sent away to Indian schools where their hair was cut, the could not speak their language, or practice their religion.

It has always been morally right in the minds of Americans to separate children from families. At this very moment, poor women are having babies and living in the woods, afraid that their children would be taken away because of their economic condition.

Children suffer in foster homes while their parents languish in prison cells for unfair drug sentences.

President Trump is the American mirror. He represents who we really are as a nation. Every racist tweet, stereotypical comment, and pronouncement about those unfit to live on American soil are historical messages that have resonated with Americans for centuries. His message is as old as the birth of America.


A protest against children separation from parents  | Photo from Wall Street International

The impact of mother-child separation is traumatic and will impact these children for years to come, some may never recover.

But as Americans imagine the harm done to these children, can they also empathazize with the Native Americans who live with the collective trauma of the genocide against their people?

Can Americans understand why so many Native Americans live lives of desperation only alcohol and drugs?

Can Americans use this moment to empathize with the collective trauma of Afrrican Americans and how destructive that trauma has been for generations?

Will this moment provide a deeper look at U.S. immigration policy, who it is used against?

Will this moment make Americans reflect on the history that brought the country to this moment?

Most importantly, will this moment make us as a nation not be selective in our outrage?

Will we weep for all of the mothers who are separated from their children?

Will we have national marches and protests the next time an African American mother weeps because her son has been killed by a policeman?

Think more deeply about the wounds and how the trauma will not only impact the child but the children’s children if not acknowledged and addressed.

Empathize rather than demonizing those who carry the collective trauma for generations. What are they owed? Can we empathize with the descendants of those snatched away from their mothers?

This is history redux, will our empathy end with this crisis?

Martha R. Bireda

*Martha R. Bireda

Martha R. Bireda’s debut fiction novel, “The Womb Rebellion”, tells the story of gynecological resistance among enslaved women on a southern plantation.

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