PARDON ME, BUT…
On the streets of Brooklyn in the 1940’s and 50’s, we all lived in enclaves of ethnicity. That is, we live within our cultural boundaries of Italian, Irish, Jewish, Black or Puerto Rican (There were no ‘Hispanics’ in those days.) Identifying someone from another neighborhood, or culture was needed since our ‘world’ was so narrow. Being under the influence of our grandparents, their immigration made for the cultural barriers that were set up. Italians stayed with Italians, as did Poles, Germans, Irish, Chinese and Japanese. Granted we were all Americans, but in our adopted country, and in our inherited country, there was still discrimination. People tolerated but not always accepted.
In those days, rather than have puppies about each other, we learned to borrow some culture as our own. It made Brooklyn what it became, and is what unified our country. Not political correctness. That is just watering down the personalities that abound in this society, and leave for a very dull life. I want to hear about Jewish humor, in comes from suffering, it teaches us that we are all human. I want to eat soul food: it is something that unites us as a people. I want to go to a Polish or Irish or Italian festival, because it gives me pause to remember those brave souls that came here, without a cent in their pockets, and sometimes, without the language.
Have you ever gone to a place where black Americans hang out? They laugh, they sing, they dance, and they tell great stories, sometimes joking about themselves, this is greatness of a people, this is America. It should remind us all that they have their rights, as black Americans, too. If political correctness is to prevail, then get the hell off the pot, and do away with affirmative action!
Back in the 1950’s: a cousin of mine was going to marry a non-Italian man from a different religion. The family rung its hands over the prospects, and wondered: “How do we break this news to Grandma?” Well, Grandma Frances loved the idea that my cousin could marry such a wonderful man. It was all about her coming here to America, and assimilating into this new and wonderful culture. Since then, Irish, Poles and even Japanese extraction have found its way into our family. My grandmother would be very proud of us!
So, do I want to stop using ethnic descriptions? The answer is ‘NO’! I get a kick over Vincent eating a kosher pickle, Mr. Chin discovering Kielbasa, and Mrs. Murphy eating a calzone. What it means is we don’t need political correctness to ruin our lives, and make us anxious, the food will. The different ethnicities are our culture, how do we ignore the uniquity of it all?
At Easter time, when we used to get together as a young family of mostly Polish and Italian, we would look forward to certain dishes. I invented the Polish ‘Big Mac!’ My brother-in-law, John, would have an array of horseradish and kielbasa with rye bread on his table. I would slice a piece of bread, then a slice of two of kielbasa, and then pile on both the white and red horseradish! Talk about heaven! And I can thank that Japanese girl’s ancestors for sushi and sake, not to mention tempura. Guinness, strudel, soda bread, thank you very much!
My point is: don’t get hung up over nothing, because nothing is what you can do about it.
View my new post!
I decided to put my novel up as a preview! Please comment if you like. Go to: http://deliterature.blogspot.com/
This is the first second from my book, Tolik's Odyssey. Next week: the third chapter.