Thirty years ago, Dina Gusovsky and her family fled the former Soviet Union as Jewish refugees. They ended up settling in the United States.
Yesterday, Dina, who is now a writer on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” shared an important message about her former homeland’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the nearly five minute monologue, Dina passionately and hilariously discusses her experience as a “walking contradiction” in America, someone who is both grateful to live in the U.S., yet stills speaks Russian and is immersed in Russian culture despite having fled the USSR. At the same time, Dina also reminds the audience that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “Putin’s war.”
“Just because someone in America speaks Russian and always looks miserable, that doesn’t mean that they support Putin,” Dina says, adding, “and while [Putin] might be trying to divide Russians and Ukrainians over there, here in America, we are united and steadfast in our support for Ukraine.”
Dina’s message could not be more prescient. Just a few days before her “Late Night” segment, The Washington Post reported on a wave of hostility targeting Russian Americans, regardless of where they stand on the war, everywhere from their places of business to schools. Though this harassment is nothing new — Dina herself spoke about being told to “go back to Russia” by her fifth grade teacher — the piece emphasizes that it’s on the rise again due to Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
Still, Dina expertly manages to balance the heavy subject matter with a lighter tone. The biggest laugh of the segment comes when she teases host Seth Meyers, suggesting that Ukrainian president (and former comedian) Volodymyr Zelensky is an example of how brave comedians can be and that Seth should go and fight in Ukraine.
Dina also kept her comments light by comparing the many similarities between Russians and Ukrainians, like how close they are to their babushkas. “My grandmother was born in Kirovohrad, Ukraine, survived the Holocaust and witnessed the Cold War,” Dina says. “She was only able to come to America in her 60s, and she happens to be this country’s biggest cheerleader.”
Though Dina didn’t share in the segment her suggestions on how to support Ukraine, she took to Twitter a few days earlier with that information:
If you're feeling helpless (like so many of us are) and you have the means, please consider donating to an organization that has been helping vulnerable children in Ukraine for years…these kids are facing more danger and fear now than ever before. https://t.co/gmVaJtzPKN
— Dina Gusovsky (@DinaGusovsky) February 26, 2022
So thank you, Dina, for sharing your very Jewish Russian American story with us and reminding us that Russian Americans are our neighbors, not our enemies.