This is my journey as I return to school and work in a profession I once dabbled in as a means for funding an after college 7 year long ski trip...not as a viable career choice. I hope I entertain, enlighten and learn something from any readers I may attract.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fourth of July

Today is the Fourth of July. I love this holiday.There is something about a day to celebrate in the middle of the summer... I enjoy the pageantry and tradition and weather. Not unlike other families here, we have a routine that rarely has changed from year to year. Unless there is a death or illness, we all head out to the same beach house that had been in my family for generations. The place is just magical. Memories of years gone by come rushing back and we sit around swapping stories of holidays gone by and family members no longer with us. We all talk about Tom's boiled peanuts, and the neighbor's fried bacon wrapped crackers.We talk about the cousin's dog who bit every child in our family at some point, and the year my cousins talked (dared) me into dressing up like the Statue of Liberty and waving at traffic.We talk about WWII when my mother and grandmother went to live on an uncle's dairy farm until my grandfather returned rather than live alone.We talk football and politics. To be honest, football is a much more heated debate than politics....some of the men played football at one school while others attended the in-state rival. All's fair.My family is All American and damn proud of it!
So, what is my rant?
My inlaws are a little different than us.Do not mistake me. My father-in-law actually enlisted voluntarily in the Navy during Vietnam. He is patriotic as hell. So is his wife. Either second or third generation Americans, they can trace their roots back to Germany easily, and quickly. Truly stories of the American Dream, I have heard all about South Dakota, raising cattle, and fighting the elements to be self sufficient. They come from amazing immigrants who worked hard and really carved out a positive, productive life in the states. This is where the rant starts.The other day, my mil (mother in law) and niece were at Kmache checking out. Apparently the girl (age6) asked mil if the people in front of them were Mexican. Mil answered yes and niece replied "why don't they go back to their country?" Mil could have crawled under the nearest table but really did nothing to discourage her.She simply told her to be quiet. Then she called us and told us the family needs to watch what they say around her. WHAT? I was disgusted! My mother would have yanked my sorry ass out of that store so fast the other shoppers would not have been able to ID us in a lineup. I told mil a prejudiced child is gross. I then suggested to her to point out that niece's family had all come from some other country first.To that she said no, we are from here. I said, "y'all are not native americans, your forefathers came from Europe." For goodness sake! Why does this bother me? We never see that child. I see her about 4 times a year, and certainly don't discuss immigration with her. Mil and fil take care of her more than anyone else. Good people who love America but refuse to watch what they say, and then want to share the blame with people that child rarely sees. Arrgh! I love America for all her colors, ethnicities, and differences. Always have. I was raised with all sorts of types, and people were just people. I always knew that my family came from Wales, England, Germany, and the Cherokee Tribe. Genealogy is fascinating to me, and I celebrate my differences the same way I devour mole fresh from my buddy Mimi's kitchen every time I visit her and her extremely Mexican family. I love my how my Eastern European friends try to kill me with carraway goulash. I think it is neat to go to Nancy's and have Cuban inspired dishes. Never mind Hannukah with our native Israeli friends....even a Catholic Priest would love the spread! I love this melting pot! All this said, I choose not to debate legals vs illegals here. I have my opinions but that platform is for another day. I think we should celebrate America today. All of it. We should invite someone of a different origin to celebrate. We should learn our neighbors stories. We should respect others. We need to remember where we all came from, and celebrate tha we are all here in the good ol USA. We need to teach children about baseball and hotdogs, open up a dialogue about diversity and how we are lucky to be citizens of the US. Lets focus on how to keep a 6 year old acting like a kid, not a political pundit. Let's talk positively about immigrants, we all had to come from somewhere. Let's learn the story before making the call. And let's teach children to do the same. Unless you ask, how do you know the story? I honestly hope the folks in line in front of mil and niece will forgive a child for parroting a warped view. I hope they have a great Independence Day, they probably respect it more than that child does, in fact I'm not sure she knows the meaning.
I had to get this off my chest. Prejudice is wrong. A prejudiced child is plain wrong.While I am disgusted and embarassed by this "innocent" remark, I will not share the blame for a behavior learned from others but rather suggest other ways to explain diversity. After all, diversity is what makes us great. I respect other cultures and love their foods. I do not respect shrugging off piss poor attitudes and behaviors, nor do I find it cute or funny. That child should have been at least talked to about her heritage, and maybe she would understand why what she said was wrong and hurtful. Please teach children understanding, we can choose to celebrate diversity or down it, the choice is ours, and we can teach kids how to work within the structures of polite society or be ignorant assholes. We can move forward or backwards. It is up to us!
Happy Fourth of July!!

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