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Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 9:31 am


Post by Assorahj »

this is a tough, not readily addressed issue. first there is meaning to heritage if indeed it is at the root of experience. if one were to grow up in sudan, in the proximity of any number of years of extended family, in the active life of the sudanese, then it is to be expected that one's behavior would reflect that. hence, a true african-american--one who is actually from africa--would be expected to have some degree of african tastes and mannerisms.

the same can be said of any extended group. this is not an act of fraudulence, but core behavioral patterns.

however, adopted heritage is in no wise the same thing. because you have black-brown skin does not mean that you have a deeper connective vein to kenya, or the congo, or victoria falls. in fact, if i, a caucasion-ish mutt, and something of a student of african music, wildlife, and cultural histories, were to go to africa, it would have more meaning to me than to a body whose only connection is skin tone.

if you were born and raised in boston, having some trace of lakota blood does not make you born for the prarie. however far back you may trace your apache ancestry, if you have never been on a horse, you will not become the 'horse whisperer' by stepping out into a pasture.

again, this is not singular to any people. those of german extraction have no greater insight into the music of mozart than do those of asian lineage.

studying heritage, your own and others, is unquestionably to be encouraged. the problem comes from the kinds of associative heritage mentioned above. it creates in us separatism. it breeds, fosters, festers into the scar-tissue of assumed differences. YOU are different from ME. thus, instead of embracing and celebrating the basic diversity that is the most amazing part of our country, we schism off into pockets of adopted familiars and war with all other pockets.

one thing to note is that it is rarely first-generation immigrants. the gangs that so increasingly fill cities and suburbs are almost always driven by american-born generations that cling to heritage as a way of identity. and, in an assumed, shared identity, they find the solace of others with the same personality holes. and, horribly, this turns far, far too often into the violence of us-against-them.

watch the wonderful, horrible film 'hotel rwanda.' study some bit of data about the castes of india. read about american civil rights and remember that martin luther king was a part of our own lifetimes. mccarthyism. apartheid. northern ireland. southern sudan. bosnia. compton, ca.

this is what separtism breeds, fosters, festers.

and, mayhap, we are not far enough removed from the animal combatants we watch on 'discovery.' maybe we are unhealable. or maybe dostoevsky knew a thing that we do not, and beauty will save the world.

or maybe all we need is a good fart joke. i don't know.