Our Voices

A Mother’s Love: The Resilience of an Immigrant

  • By
  • India Norris

My mom immigrated to the United States in 1997. She worked a series of jobs between the time she arrived and the day she had me six years later. At work, colleagues and customers disrespected her because of her thick accent and initially low capability to speak English.

Little did people know that English would be my mom’s sixth language, after French, Italian, German, Spanish, and her native language, Swiss-German. Every migrant faces preconceived notions from three common conclusions: that they are either threatening, burdensome, or helpless.

As a white woman, my mom is not perceived as a terrorist or a cost to American taxpayers – instead, people assume she is helpless. Despite seeming an incapable woman to those around her, my mom was, and is, quite the opposite. Not only did she enter a new world at the age of 20, but did so without any support or connections. It was with this in mind that she raised me to be selfless and independent.

In 2018, she opened a restaurant to employ immigrants and refugees in the city of Memphis, Tennessee. In August of this year, she will celebrate Global Café’s five-year anniversary, along with the hard work of her employees who come from Mexico, Sudan, and Venezuela. Although the pandemic has posed staffing problems, she has faced the restaurant industry’s challenges head-on.

Opening this restaurant with no expectation of reciprocity, but simply rather a delivery of altruism, is the philosophy with which I walk in my mother’s footsteps. She has taught me to reflect similar intentions in my actions, from volunteering with the RFK Human Rights Organization to educating my peers on voting rights at university. Mother’s Day, for me, is a celebration of my love for her and of her love for the world around her.

Norris is a member of RFKHR’s Youth Advisory Board and a student at Northeastern University studying international affairs and international business.