Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

On Prejudice in America 2019…by Robert M. Katzman

On Prejudice, in America 2019
By Robert M. Katzman © July 21, 2019

Overall, my family, too, can be told go back to where we came from, except when you read where we came from, well, we’ll need a lot of planes flying in different places.

As far skin color, gee, well…, um, some white like doves, some as dark as the bark of an old oak, some ruddy red like a deep sunset, some olive colored, like me, I suppose, which frankly my very very “white” Norwegian/Danish wife thought was very attractive. Or she kissed that olive skin often enough over 42 years. I don’t think Joy ever saw color.

While she was alive, if someone made some stupid prejudiced remark about her grandchildren, or yours, that hidden Viking axe was never too far away from her to erupt into rage. If my Joyce were alive, she’d make a hellova president. Even dead, she’s way better than the sewer of hate we’re emersed in now.

Silence isn’t golden. That’s why all your brave and tough grandparents, came to America in he first place. Would they admire their grandchildren today?

My original post starts here:

Sometimes, like a sky that seems confused
About whether it’s bad weather or sunny, or mixed
Other things aren’t always so clear, either

Other times
There is a level of beauty 
Beyond words
Which suggests that bad times 
Are transitory,
And like great storms 
Will blow away.

Sometimes, a person, any person
Can look up and think
That maybe their world might end
That the sky might fall

And some of my uncles 
Who died in in World War One 
And my tiny Polish Grandmother 
Who wrapped bandages 
For the Red Cross 
Before she could speak English 
Took her a long time to 
Learn to speak English 

Like now in America 
I think about my grandparents
From Eastern Europe 
Who managed to emigrate here 
Just before the door was shut 
On Jewish immigration 

Then I think about my father and uncle 
Who fought for America in Asia 
In World War Two 
Even though both could speak Yiddish 
A strange foreign language, 
No one seemed to think they 
Weren’t “American” enough, 
Especially when my father Israel 
Was wounded
In a Japanese air raid

Then I think that
My own grandchildren, today, 
Are more “foreign” than ever, 
Collectively part: 
Native American (Ojibwa, Ottowa, Ohio), Philippine, Mexican/Basque
Danish, Norwegian, Jewish (Polish, Lithuanian, Byelorussian) 
English, French, Irish 
And two are miraculously descended 
From two Holocaust survivors. 

I wonder what is 
An “American” anyway 
And why is this so confusing? 
Doesn’t it mean the one country 
A person declares is theirs 
Over all others? 
Who is in charge of deciding this? 
Are some people somehow
“More American” than others? 

I’m pretty smart, 
Speak the local 
Wisconsin language
Fairly well 
And think this whole subject 
Is insane

The United States “ethnicity” 
Is the Declaration of Independence 
and 
The Constitution,
A sort of mixed marriage
If that’s what any person 
From anywhere, 
Is willing to except 
And maybe die for some day
There is nothing else 
They have to prove to me

Because after all
Who the hell am I 
To judge anyone? 
Scary times that needn’t be 
I believe 
Especially for children 
Who haven’t a clue 
What’s going on 
With their parents

But eventually, 
Like the sun peeking through 
What seems to be a 
Temporarily terrifying sky 
That this particular time 
When my country is acting 
Irrationally like it is now 
Like when the Chinese and 
Southern Europeans
Were prevented from coming here 
Or the McCarthy Era 
When a communist was 
Whomever one man 
Decided was one 

Or when the Japanese here 
Were locked up
Or when the Native Americans 
Were slaughtered for their land
Or the Germans here 
Were persecuted in World War One
Or the Catholics before the Revolution 
Or when the Irish here
Were treated like dirt 
Called Monkeys
After the potato famine 
Or Italians and Sicilians 
A century ago, 
Or Black and Brown people 
Continuously 

That one day, one day soon, 
All of this will blow over 
Like a bad storm 
And that beautiful Red, White and Blue flag
–Wait! Does that maybe suggest mixed blood??–
Will resume meaning 
Everything 
It’s supposed to mean 
For everyone in this country 

I am only one voice
But in this country 
One voice is supposed to matter
Every voice 
When the current storm passes 
Maybe it will be light enough 
To see that flag better 
And remember what it represents 

Thanks for reading this reflection of mine
Freedom of the Press 
Remember? 
I do

2 Comments »

Comment by Brad Dechter

July 22, 2019 @ 12:29 pm

Amen, Bob!
Now tell the truth- have those folks in Wisconsin told you to leave and go back to Chicago yet?
Has Trump written you yet about your ancestry and showed you the door out, in spite of the patriotism your family has shown and your love for our country and all its good?
Sad commentary that so far only 4 republicans have admonished him for breeding hatred.
Brad

Comment by B. J.

July 30, 2019 @ 3:28 pm

Bob, this is so beautifully stated. You have not changed very much since we were both so young, and that’s why I will always remember you from our long-ago days in Hyde Park.

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