Dr. Fiona Citkin urges minorities and immigrants to work together to bring meaningful, positive change in the U.S. in her Huffington Post article, “Immigrants and Minorities of America, Unite!” Yes, there are many benefits to bringing minorities and immigrants together, but there are also numerous pushes & pulls involved in uniting them, in establishing their local-global connection. I have long maintained that “Harmonize NOT Homogenize” is key to our working together, but today’s highly emotional environment makes even this approach difficult.
The vague feminism of our grandmothers was about their desire to be counted with – not only as wives and mothers but also as equal partners in life outside home and society salons. If we think of feminism as influence-seeking, it’s as old as humanity, transitioning from individual to mass feminism. Thus, strong women always strived to achieve individual influence—and some succeeded. Think La Malinche, lover/advisor of Juan Cortez, or Esther – wife/advisor of Persian King Anasuerus, or feminist-minded Eleanor Roosevelt who shaped the role of the First Lady, or countless others who became influencers because of their men. Women rulers, like Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher, – impacted the world through their strategic thinking. History provides ample individual illustrations of what’s feasible for a “weaker sex.”
A black-and-white photograph curled at the edges pressed between the pages of Anna Karenina falls into my hands as I fumble about the bookshelf. Anna Karenina. It appears I was using the photograph as a bookmark and apparently gave up after page 662. Do not judge me, dear Reader – I was only fifteen at the time. No doubt, I found the drama of my own life infinitely more interesting.
Home is the place that cradles our souls and soothes our most primal needs. Yet, for most of us, the only place that is certain to be a home is a mother’s womb, for after we are born, we move through time and space sometimes by force, sometimes by will, and spend a lifetime searching for a way of return. My family relocated to the United States when I was just out of high school. It was a decision made by my father who as a young man had been brought to the Soviet Republic of Armenia in 1946. My father’s parents had survived the Genocide of the Armenians on western Armenian lands (Eastern Turkey) in 1915, and like thousands, had made a life for themselves in Aleppo, Syria after walking for days through the deserts of Der El Zor.
(Part #2 of the Bermuda Jews History Series)
In the early 1900s, Jewish tailors among the Eastern Europeans who arrived in America in droves. Only one tailor, my great grandfather, ended up as one of few Bermuda Jews. Picking up an Americanized version of his Russian last name, he became Axel Malloy passing through Ellis Island in New York City. He was better known by the first name of David, a name change that happened when he seriously ill. The family kept to the Eastern European Jewish tradition changing one’s name to hide from the Angel of Death.
My transitional experience from the tough life of a new immigrant to become a college graduate, as a new U.S. citizen, a volunteer for CARE International, a private humanitarian aid organization, and now my charitable organization the Global Paint for Charity, I feel very grateful and blessed to be here especially in Atlanta Georgia. But it’s important, as immigrants living in the Diaspora, that we don’t forget what we can do to help people back at home. It’s not good enough for us to complain about what other people aren’t doing for us. It’s important that we all need to group and regroup together, to discuss ways to make a difference in those in needs back at homes and our community in here.
Coming from a diverse background, I have always had an interest in diversity and thought about it holistically. From a very young age I was very passionate about diversity and wanted to take in as much knowledge as I could about it. I recall speaking to various elders about the topic; some were family members, many were family friends and acquaintances. They spoke of the changes that were inevitable and only a matter of time. When an individual comes from a diverse background they tend to be more aware and in tune with diversity. That is not to say they are more knowledgeable about the topic than someone that is not from a diverse background, but they sense the emerging trends.
Indian Americans or immigrants born in India have been in the news and the public eye. This includes Bobby Jindal,Governor of Lousiana; the WWF Wrestler ‘Khali’; Vikram Pandit; CEO of Citigroup and Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico. Movie makers Meera Nair and Night Shyamalan have further raised the visibility of this hard working community. Actor Karl Penn who is on Barack Obama’s arts committee has helped Indian Americans become mainstream. Indian students in American colleges are one the largest block of international students in the country. Yet, there is another side to the Indian American story where immigrants do not feel at home in the U.S. and are leaving.
“Anything you can do I can do better” was an unspoken refrain of the interviews I conducted with immigrant women leaders, researching my upcoming book. Their combined brilliance nearly triggered my inferiority complex. How come they did SO MUCH better than me? I’d ask myself (I typically take everything personally).
Riding happily on the London Underground’s crowded Piccadilly Line, I was headed for the famous Harrods’s Department Store. My fellow passengers were a diverse group. They included two young Asian women, several people from India or Pakistan, a Sikh man with the signature maroon turban, several black people whose accents indicated Caribbean or African origins, several white Brits with various British accents, a few white American tourists, and next to me were two young men, one black, one white talking about their families in South Africa. I sat, taking it all in, and thinking “This is what I love about London. Such diversity and all living together, mostly peacefully, going about their lives. What an interesting and exciting place! So unlike east Tennessee!”