Comment: This week I am travelling in the US with my children visiting our family. Every time that we visit the political tensions in my home country have become more and more marked.
For some, those tensions have always been there. The US has an appalling track record on the treatment of minorities, with a colonial period that spanned centuries as Europeans pushed Native Americans further and further west on to smaller and more marginal parcels of land.
Black Americans also have a history of mistreatment by the US government that spans hundreds of years, with slavery reaching our shores in the 1600s and "equal rights" granted in the 1960s.
But for many white people, and certainly for my family, the US has always been "The land of the free". My father is a first generation American whose parents fled Latvia during World War II. My mother's family has been in America for generations and barely survived the Great Depression on a family farm.
In many ways my whakapapa represents the story of the American Dream - a land where people can escape oppression and rise from poverty. The actions of the current President of America (and his administration) have highlighted the fact that the American Dream has really only ever been for white people.
Scratching the surface reveals that just under the shiny facade lies structures of oppression that have allowed families like mine to benefit from The American Dream, while other families have been pushed into poverty or worse.
The fact that so many non-minorities are waking up to these structures may be the only lasting benefit that Trump brings to America. Trump is saying out loud what for so long was America's thinly veiled secret - that it is a racist country.
The problem is that the words and actions of our president have emboldened others who think like him. These people, fearing the loss of their top perch in American society, fearing the loss of their comfort and security, have become more brazen and more vocal in their defence of the current system, and their claims that dissenters are unpatriotic.
It is easy for us New Zealanders to point a finger at America and cast a disapproving glance across the Pacific.
I can say "us" now because earlier this month my husband and I attended our New Zealand citizenship ceremony. We are now New Zealand citizens. Eleven years after arriving in this beautiful country, we can finally call it "ours", or at least the Queen would say so.
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I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was caught completely off guard that when gaining citizenship to this beautiful bicultural nation I would participate in the most overtly colonial act that I have ever been a part of.
Let me point out just a few of the problematic moments of the citizenship ceremony. Firstly, the role and position of tangata whenua. The ceremony began with a Maori karanga and karakia, but from that point on representatives of the crown took centre stage.
The mayor presided over the ceremony and a uniformed military officer stood in a prominent position while the kaumatua sat far off to the side. After we swore an oath to the Queen, we were welcomed and congratulated by the mayor, not the kaumatua.
And about that oath. We were offered the option of a religious oath or non-religious affirmation, neither of which from my memory included any direct reference to the Treaty of Waitangi or tangata whenua.
There was no option given to say the oath in te reo Māori, although one woman did. The mayor declared it the first time he had ever heard it said in our nation's first language.
Throughout the ceremony New Zealand was referred to as "a nation of immigrants", a phrase that left me questioning.
The welcome video with messages from government officials and scenes of "multicultural" New Zealand also left me questioning. The biggest question being - where are all the Māori?
I shouldn't be surprised at the lack of inclusion of Māori voices in the citizenship ceremony, but I was.
And to be fair if I was tangata whenua I'm not sure I would want to participate in such a colonial display at all.
But the nature of the ceremony, the ceremony that makes me officially a citizen of Aotearoa spoke volumes about what is valued and respected by the NZ government.
I like to think that Aotearoa is very different from America, but it pays to remember that there are so many similarities too.
• Dani Lebo has a background in international relations and education.