I haven't spoken to my brother in a long while because he's just getting back on the right terms with my sister, and I've known her for her entire life whereas he's only been my brother for a decade or so. This essay is not so much about him personally, or my white family in Italy or France, but my theoretical family in the next generation.
In particular, I thought about how cool it would be if one of my daughters married into the kind of Latino family whose father I could get along with - like one of the guys I went to high school with, like Rueda or Izqierdo, Zamora, Rodriguez or Baca. Man that would be cool. Then I thought how cool it would be if my son married into another kind of family... and then I oopsed a bit. What if none of them marry black? Well, I'm actually already cool with that, so long as the family has got soul. But it's really not for me to choose. On the other hand, what gets me excited is the extent to which these new families get me and my family history into their trees.
I read over at Alternet some commenter who talked about black culture vs asian culture vis a vis 'culture of achievement'. I haven't heard that one in a long time. You can't really capitalize those because they are talking points in lightweight racial discussions. There is nothing quite like the black and white of America, so much so that Asians don't much fit in or weigh in. The minute you think you're saying something about Japanese, dude looks at you and says, "Duh I'm Korean."
It's the same generational thing. I thought about it the other day at the student car wash when I noticed the Asian dad sitting alone. I ignored him and spoke to the guy I know, even though we never say much. It's true I ignore most people but the Asian guy, whom I seem to recall had a really sporty car, I ignored even more. I have met several Asian men I find admirable. The best project manager I ever worked with, and other token spots in memory. It's difficult to tell how much any Asian guys I have somewhat known want to deal with whatever cultural status there is to be had in this America. I tend to believe that most do what I do some of the time, which is to obsess over my family strengths and be the Old Harsh Jew.
The Old Harsh Jew is only named here and now in this blog post, but has existed in my mind for two decades after reading a particular issue of Granta. The story was told by the son of the OHJ who, ex of Nazi Germany here in the land of milk and honey, never took any time to enjoy life's simple pleasures, nor to give any. Always with the looking over the shoulder, checking for the double-cross, and trusting no one, he grew upon his personality a carapace of steel and this was the visage passed to the son. The son got no warmth, but he did get lessons he never appreciated until much later in life. But the greater lesson of the OHJ is that family matters more than society and it should. What you do for family, you might do for society and that might be a proper way of looking at things, but those who sacrifice family for society we scratch our heads about. Societies can turn ugly, and they are much more volatile than they used to be. It's better to have strong ties in a strong family.
How much integration is possible without the integration of families?
I don't think it even makes sense to contemplate an integrated society without that fundamental premise. For all the talk about racism in America, this is the discussion that gets no play among the pundits. I suspect that is because the pundits seek to influence policy and that sort of bureaucratic stuff. Family is something over which they'd like to have control but cannot approach it. It occurs to me that the greatest integration of American society with respect to black and white came with the stroke of a pen sorts of powers that changed the Civil Service and Armed Forces. That's the biggest chunk on the pareto, everything else is weak by comparison, even Affirmative Action. I would have a skeptical eyebrow about the Fair Housing laws, because black neighborhoods haven't much changed or moved from where they were 60 years ago. Only those who could afford to move would move anyhow, and the Great Migration from the South was not a government initiative. Nor was the Civil Rights Movement and all that has transpired in American culture to change hearts and minds. But it all still comes down, as I see it, to race mixing.
Race mixing not for the purposes of destroying a race, but for the purposes of destroying the idea. At some point it has to be about the dance, and not about the dancers.