Virtually all Americans have an immigrant story in our ancestors’ past. I would not be here if not for my great grandfather, Jack Slotnikow. An 18-year-old Jewish orphan living in a small village of the Ukraine, at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution he and his brother were conscripted into the Czar’s army to fight the Bolsheviks. While being transported to a military training camp against their will, they leapt from the back of a moving truck and under a hail of gunfire, escaped into the woods. Penniless and on the lam, Jack and his brother walked three thousand miles across Europe to Amsterdam, where they found passage on a steamship to New York. They were the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. America represented for them, as our founding fathers had intended, an opportunity to create a better life, Reagan’s “shining city on the hill.”
Lest we believe that xenophobia and racism are new in our country, when they arrived in America, Jack and his brother were turned away as a result of immigration quotas that Congress had placed on specific countries to prevent America from being over run by hordes of “undesirables” such as Italians, Irish, and Jews. They ultimately found safe haven in Canada before years later securing legal immigrant status to the United States.
While extremely concerned by the divisive rhetoric of our President while on the campaign trail as well as his comfort in legitimizing fringe racist movements by bringing them under his wing, the actions that he has undertaken during his first week in office make it no longer an option to sit idly by and watch the “reality show” in silent horror. It is time to make a clear statement that our immigrant co-workers seek nothing more than what our ancestors sought, and nothing less than the opportunity that our nation, America, has always promised. They are our sisters and brothers, our family, and we stand arms locked alongside them.
Many of you will remember that in one of his more insensitive tweets, on Cinco de Mayo, the Orange One sent out a picture of himself (https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/728297587418247168?lang=en) smiling over and praising the quality of his namesake restaurant’s taco bowl (a restaurant that Vanity Fair recently reviewed with the headline, “Trump Grill may be the worst restaurant in America”). Each Monday and Tuesday during the month of February, Comal will be offering “taco bowls”, a fried flour tortilla bowl filled with rice, black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, cheese, crema, guacamole and a choice of either beef piquadillo, rotisserie chicken, or vegetarian.
At $15 per bowl, the net proceeds from every one sold will be donated to East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a non-profit organization that offers legal aid and support to immigrants, refugees, and specifically to those “Dreamers” who came out from the shadows under DACA. Please join us in solidarity with our Comal family, or donate directly at eastbaysanctuary.org or to any of the following organizations that in times such as these do invaluable work: http://www.iibayarea.org/get-help/daca/providers/
Chef Matt Gandin