The First Day I Lived in America

Column: Racial coalitions define life in Los Angeles, and City Hall’s divisive politics needs to catch up to reality

The first day I lived in America, I felt a surge of pride at the sight of all these people from my own country all packed into one neighborhood. I looked up at the skyscrapers, and down at the cars, and they looked like cars, too.

I knew from watching too many television shows—I love watching television shows—we were a different country than the one I lived in, and that there would be a big difference between my country and their country.

I was right.

That was the moment in which I came to see that America is a really, really great country, and I don’t want to live in a great country. I want to live in just a country where people can make their own decisions without somebody telling them what to do.

When I moved to Los Angeles after college, I left the country of my birth and family to live in America. It was very exciting, and the shock of it was so strong I got nervous that I’d feel that way all the time.

I was wrong. The feeling of pride I felt when I first arrived was something I thought of as a kind of constant in my life. I have a lot of friends who feel the same way—they leave their country of origin to live in a different country to have the same life they did in their homeland.

If you think of the first day you lived in America you felt a sense of pride or even embarrassment or sorrow that came from being aware of your own country. And if you think about it, you have a general feeling that you live in a country that you have a certain pride in, and you think that you have a special place somewhere in your heart.

But these days, when I say I think America is a great country I get a little bit of a shock. I realize that I’m not going to feel that way as long as Donald Trump is the man in the White House. I’m just not.

The city I thought I understood best, L.A., is not what

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