>I was reading an article today about the impending election (can’t it just be OVER yet?!) and thinking about one I read a few weeks ago. In the article, the writer talked about Obama “choosing” to identify with the Afircan American community. At the time it struck me as naive and silly. Today it strikes me as even more so. Let’s face facts. Even if Barack Obama has a white mom from Kansas, on the outside he’s black. I grew up in a still very racially divided American South.
Do you know that when I was in 1-3 grades, one of the girls I went to school with was the daughter of the head of the Ku Klux Klan. Yep, the grand poobah of the KKK was my classmates’ daddy. And, how did I know? Well, she told me with pride in her voice, obviously. You see, it was a legacy in her family. First her great-grandaddy, then her grandaddy, then her daddy. Does that sound like an American that has overcome it’s race problems?
The schools I went to typically had an overwhleming majority of whites. But, I always had black friends. Most of them lived around the corner, they were raised just like we were, they sounded just like we did. And yet, if the cops were going to pull someone over, I assure you it was them. Because, no matter how “white” they may have been raised, they look black. They don’t choose to be African-American, they are. Period. And, really how different is that than anywhere else in the world.
The Beans all have blond hair and blue eyes. Do you think that will color the way they are viewed at school and in society? They won’t choose to be American-Jordanian. They just are. Now, I’m positive they will become just one more part of the fabric that makes up Jordan. The Arabic they speak will be the same Palestinian/Jordanian brand of the area. Their cultural upbringing will be local (and American at the same time). But, always, when people look at them, they will see Americans.
Let me give a simple example of this. Junior Bean’s teacher was telling me how pleased she was with him because he asked her bil 3arabi, “Miss A, biddi aruuh 3al hamam, lo samahti.” The next thing she said was, even the Arab kids don’t ask in complete sentences bil 3arabi. She backtracked worrying about offering offense and said, I mean not that he isn’t an Arab, I mean the ones with two Arab parents. Now, I’m not the least bit offended. I know that when you look at the Beans you see Americans. That’s reality. But, do you think they have any choice whatsoever? Of course not, because perception is reality.
So, in the end, how much choice do we have in what community is ours? Although I may live here many years, in the end I’ll still be the American in the room…