Thursday, July 29, 2004

Family History

My family is the most bizarre mix of religions and nationalities. Scotch, Irish, English, Welsch, French, Czech, Russian, Polish. These are only the ones I know definitely. There may be more. My father's family are Ashkenazi Jews, so the Czech, Russian, and Polish must be amended to include that. Besides the Jewish, my family has actually been Protestant and most recently, Catholic. My parents started out as hippies in the 60s and decided to try every religion on earth including every Protestant denomination and non-denomination, before finally settling on Catholicism. Without delving into my personal religious views (which I would consider bad manners on my part), I will venture to say that I have evolved into a religious pragmatist. I think some of it is a little foolish, but I don't hate any religion and consider most of them either benign or good.

One thing I don't understand why some people get so upset about religious people being judgmental. They are allowed. If you think they have a point, but are pissed at them for pointing it out, then you are a hypocrite. If you think they are full of shit, then why do you care what they say? Believe me when I say that I have dealt with all types and I find people basically either good or evil, religion nonwithstanding.

I didn't really want to get into religion, but I always think it is an interesting topic as long as folks don't take it too personally. What I actually wanted to write about was the complete European shit-mix that I am, and the fact that I added Jethro's completely different race and religion to my daughters already homogenized genes. One thing they can always hold their heads up proudly for is that there can be absolutely no question of incest. :-)

I think this is why I am so enamored with the country in which I live. This is all possible. This colossal clash of cultures is POSSIBLE!! To me, this is a tremendous thing. It is like passing all the wisdom of our collective cultures into two little girls and then releasing them on the world. I just hope we can make a decent job of it. I feel like it is a serious responsibility. I want them to be interested in their cultures, but I don't want my girls take pride in either race. Your race isn't an achievement. I want them to be proud of their accomplishments, talents, grades, or personalities. If you don't take pride in someone else's accomplishments just because they are of your race, then cannot feel shame in the someone else's failures just because they are of your race. And there are terrible failures from every race.

The fact is that they look like both of us. And they don't look fully like one race or the other. This, I know has created identity issues for some children, but I am determined that will not happen to my girls. I want them to be a part of both races and be contented and at peace with who they are. This means not being self-deprecating about my race. It is tempting sometimes when I'm around my husband's family just because we all have self-deprecating senses of humor, and it is so darn easy to make fun of white people, but there are times when a joke will go too far and the seeds of doubt may be planted in impressionable minds.

I don't have any illusions that making my children a part of two races will be easy. I don't think it will. But the first step for Jethro and I has been to do away with politically correct racial sensitivity as much as possible. This doesn't mean we go around making fun of people (we try to teach the girls manners as well), it simply means that we look at the intent behind the words rather than the words themselves. If no harm is meant, we let it go. So far, we haven't had any issues, because most people are polite and decent.

The funniest thing is when people assume that you have to deal with discrimination frequently. The "insensitive" comments that are sometimes made in the name of "sensitivity" are hilarious. But we never take it as a sign of some deep-rooted bigotry. It is just ordinary people trying to let you know that they have no problems with you. And that's cool.

This whole post is kind of jumbled, but I've been wanting to write about it for awhile.

10 comments:

Angi said...

Zelda, as parents all we can hope to do is to teach our kids that race doesn't matter, so that thier generation will be more tolerant than all the generations before them. Sounds like you are doing a good job.

Zelda said...

Thanks Angie. I have no idea if I'm doing a good job. Only time will tell. I don't care about race. If it mattered to me, I would have found a nice Jewish or Catholic boy. But I don't care if race matters to someone else. It is their perogative to marry whoever they want and even to tolerate whoever they want. I think most people are accepting and those are the people I care to know. If they aren't, then screw it. I am intolerant of their intolerance.

But I have no right to sound militant as I have encountered absolutely no discrimination so far.

Anonymous said...

Right on, but how the hell do hippies end up Catholic?

the bitterman
www.smokingtoaster.com

Inanna said...

I think your girls are lucky to have you and Jethro as parents. I'm also descended from Ashkenazi Jews, American Indian, East African, Irish, Eastern Europe and the French. You would never know because I got the recessive genes of blond/blue but in summer I look like an Indian. Our family has deep Melungeon roots... (tri-racial isolates) so I see everyone as a brother/sister unless they happen to be an asshole.

Zelda said...

Bitterman - it is a long involved story involving a guilt, a search for redemption, and most likely, one too many acid trips. I remember yelling at my parents when they were finally considering the Catholic Church "just pick one. Anything at all."

Inanna - Unfortunately, I only see the assholes as brother/sister. Anyone too decent probably is not related to me spiritually or otherwise :-)

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