Here’s a little show and tell. Below are photos of my husband and myself, our siblings, plus my brother-in-law's significant other and my brother's wife. We’re a pretty typical American family, at least in terms of our own generation.
But, we're the old generation, destined for extinction. Fortunately, we have 11 grown kids among us, which means we have a pretty good toehold on the future.
Skip ahead to our children’s children and two of their cousins. Some of these darlings have parents from Mexico, Germany or from Philippine or African-American ancestry. Soon, there will be more grandchildren. And, there is the possibility for even more cultural diversity when the last few kids finally marry and start families.
If you want to see what the US population will look like in the near future, just look at our next generation -- a rainbow of colors, languages and traditions, all within one ordinary US family.
Are they beautiful or what? This is tomorrow, folks, taking the best from us and our ancestors, and putting it forward.
Yes, the face of the US is changing, but that’s not a bad thing. Nations evolve just like living organisms. Life goes round and round. Don’t fight it,! Just sit back, click on the video below, and enjoy.
Regarding the wave of social pathology we’re seeing in the US these days – with the new Arizona immigration law just the tip of the iceberg -- here’s some good, bad and ugly news. First, the bad and the ugly:1. If you send your kid off to an out-of-state prison, he might come home a racist fascist. Who knew?
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/ci_15043461?IADID=Search-www.benningtonbanner.com-www.benningtonbanner.com2. Speaking of racist fascists, you may not have heard this story but here’s how three New Mexico 20-somethings spent last Saturday night (Thanks for this, Leslie.): http://parsleyspics.blogspot.com/2010/05/hate-in-america-mentally-challenged-man.htmlNow, the good: 3. In spite of the story above, the Land of Enchantment has a totally different social climate than its neighbor Arizona due, in part, to the wisdom of Gov. Bill Richardson, plus centuries of Hispanic culture embedded in every aspect of life.
I love Bill Richardson, the ultimate pragmatist. I also love New Mexico, and this story makes my heart sing. Ola, Antoinette! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/us/12newmexico.html?scp=1&sq=richardson&st=cse
Spring crept in a little early this year in New England, then took a return flight back to wherever it comes from, letting the cold air drift back in over us.
By March 20, the first official day of spring, the snow had cleared enough for us to pick out a spot to plant a lilac bush. By last week, the lilacs were available in nurseries, so we bought two different varieties and one low-bush blueberry (for the bears).
By May 1, all the white stuff had melted, even pretty far north of us. On Mother’s Day, however, we awoke to fresh coating and icy windshields. Imagine!
All that being said, here are a few things I noticed over the last few weeks that tell me spring is here to stay:
The sugaring season came and went, as it always does.
At least a few salamanders made it across roads to vernal pools for mating season. I saw them (cross the road).
Morris Dancers danced on May 1.
Young people stripped down to the essentials for a picnic on the first warm day.
Water rushed over the falls, as the snows melted up north.
Bulbs burst forth with colorful blooms.
Teenagers took out their guitars for a folk concert.
The earth greened up all around us.
There were kids in church! And kids played with kids in church!
First let me say I am not an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. I'm from a typical American family, born and bred in the USA.
But, like most Americans, many of my ancestors were not born here.
The first to come from Europe were French Protestants. That was about 350 years ago. To make it easier to get into the New World, they moved briefly to Holland and stayed long enough to establish citizenship so they could sail to New Amsterdam with Dutch papers. Without those documents, they would have been diverted to French North America (Canada), where they may have been persecuted for their religion (think Evangeline). No dummies, these folk. They'd already figured out how to work the immigration system.
The Desmarées had at least a dozen children and, as adults, they settled up and down the Hudson River. The line I'm related to bought a huge tract of land along the west side of the Hudson River from the Lenape Indians. It was once called the French Patent, but now is known as Bergen County, NJ. If you were a Sopranos fan, I believe the family home was set somewhere in northern Bergen County.
Twice that I know of, my line of this huge family moved west to settle on land the US Government had taken from Native Americans. After the Revolutionary War, my group moved from New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania then to Kentucky, to homestead land they received as veteran's benefit for military service. The natives didn't take to the idea, and attacked the settlers, mercilessly. A number were scalped, raped and kidnapped. Eventually, they moved north as a group and settled on the other side of the Ohio, River, in Indiana.
Then, in 1894, their descendants moved from what-is-now Leavenworth, Kansas to western Oklahoma in the last Oklahoma Land Run. My great-grandmother drove one wagon with five or six of her children (including my infant grandfather), and the oldest daughter had the rest of the 11 children in a separate wagon. Both women took off from the starting line -- at the signal of a gun shot -- to meet my great-grandfather, who waited near the stakes he had set to claim their parcel of land. That spot is now jiust outside Woodward, OK.
Both of these mini-migrations were perfectly legal and accepted by society, but talk about immigrants taking over the natives' jobs! What about their jobs and their land?
Another group came over in 1785. They looked for terrain similar to what they knew back home in the Old Country, which fell on either side of the southern Rhine. These people found what they were looking for in a section of the Appalachians known as Little Alsace, which stretches south from Pennsylvania through the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia. Many descendants of those folks are still there.
The newbies in my family came over from what-is-now Germany in 1838. All members of the same Lutheran church, they had a hellish time getting here and finding a place to live. After crossing the Atlantic and landing in Baltimore, they rafted up the C&O Canal (right past a house I once lived in, in Georgetown, DC). From Harper's Ferry, they portaged to the Ohio River, then rafted another 500 miles west. When they left that river they walked north IN the White River to keep from getting lost in the thick forest. Eventually, they stumlbed a nice spot, cleared the trees and founded a town in what-is-now Indiana (think John Mellencamp). I'm not sure how they were able to claim this land, or what they had to do to get into this country, but I believe the US was advertising in Europe for people willing to migrate to sparsley populated areas, including the Western Reserve.
Along the way, several adults in that group took sick and died while they were out on the ocean. At least three more were washed off the rafts. Once established in Indiana, my dad's greatgrandparents lost three of their eight children to malaria. Tied to their roots, they took some abuse from people who had already settled in that area, because they wouldn't give up their language or customs, according to one of my dad's cousins. After what they went through, I doubt they cared.
My current husband’s family came here from Germany in the Great Migration of the 1880-1890s. They settled near New York City so were able to assimilate quickly, although the family still follows many ethnic traditions. My former husband’s people arrived from Russia in 1917, weeks before the onset of that country's bloody revolution. Since they were Jews, they probably would have perished, had they stayed.
Remember, these were all immigrants who moved here to give their children a better life than they would have had back home. For the most part, those immigrants' dreams came true. But, what happened between 1666 and 2010 to turn a good number of descendants of these brave and adventurous souls into fearful and rigid people anxious to slam shut the gate to others, I can't explain. I have more relatives leading the charge to "Take Back America" than I care to mention.
I can only tell you that my husband and I are delighted that newcomers to the US have married our kids, our nieces and nephews, our cousins and our cousins' children (following all the laws of all countries involved, of course). Over the last decade, we’re so lucky to have expanded our clan with the addition of some terrific young men and women from Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, South Africa and Columbia, who are keeping the family moving forward. As I said, a typical American family.
We're not alone.
In the last few years, some of our closest friends have gained sons-in-law and daughters-in-law from Australia, Mexico, Ireland and Japan. Others have watched their grown children move to China, Japan and England for career opportumities. (Imagine that!). It’s entirely possible some will stay abroad for many years and never come back.They might marry citizens of those countries, or even bring their spouses back to the US. Or not.
To us, the recent uptick in immigration has brought us and our friends grandchildren we otherwise would not have had. Mixing cultures has given these adorable children the advantage of multiple languages spoken at home, a panoply of traditions to learn and enjoy, and love and attention from family around the globe. To us, opening our borders to immigrants has meant a stronger family, as well as more opportunities for our kids and grandkids. It's as if we're keeping the tradition going, in honor of those who came before.
How lucky can we get?
So, it’s with this overview that I reproduce a recent op-ed from The Washington Post, written by the former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Do you believe any of the following?
1. Immigrants take jobs from American workers.
2. Immigration is at an all-time high and most new immigrants came here illegally.
3. Today’s immigrants are not integrating into American life like past waves did.
4. Cracking down on illegal border crossings will make us safer.
5. Immigration reform cannot happen in an election year.
If you do, click "Read More" below on the right, and read an explainer written by someone with first-hand knowledge and understanding of the issues.