With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.
One of my earliest memories was listening to my mother talk about the ashrams, temples, and farms that littered her homeland. I hated those stories when I was young because I felt like this country had way more to offer. But it is our culture, the beauty that my parents had let go of in search of opportunity. My parents immigrated from southern India in 1999, and since then, they’ve given this nation everything they could.
My mother is a dentist, and my father helps her manage the practice. I never realized their sacrifice until they told me just how much they had to give up. They had to give up their citizenship, their family, their friends, their dignity in many cases, and even their country. They did this to reap the benefits of this country for themselves and my sister and me.
The hungry nights and the tight budgets that they had to suffer through for the first few years in the U.S. all paid off, and now we have the privilege of being able to live here with relative comfort. This country may be deeply flawed and even continues to disappoint, anger, sadden us frequently, but it still the land that I was born and raised in, and it is the country that I will help mend.
We have had so many opportunities to leave this country and have a much better life overseas with the wealth that we were, fortunately, able to accumulate, yet we stayed. Even amidst the numerous threats of deportation, or just my mom threatening to send me to India because I was not behaving, we still stayed. To me, that’s what makes America great. We can live in a country that shows close to no love to us, yet still contribute to it so that it may love us back. Hopefully, in the future, we will be loved back, but in the meantime, we will be working to make it better for everyone.
Jay Tipirneni, 17, is co-editor-in-chief of the Raven Report newsmagazine and will be a senior at Sequoia High School in the fall. The son of Srinivas Tipirneni and Siva Cherukuri, Jay and his family live in Redwood City.