A personal story I have to tell in the midst of America’s racial mayhem: multiculturalism can work. Full disclosure: nor she or I are Americans. We are residing in the US as your “legal” guests. But you cannot believe how disturbed we are by the way “black” and “white” are still at each other’s throat after all the so-called racial progress made. “She” is of East-Indian descent from the Caribbean, I am Dutch. Despite the criticism of some that interracial marriage was a no-no in the US – and I speak of 1974 – we closed the deal in Washington D.C., sanctioned by a black judge.
We were blessed with two beautiful and smart kids. “Eurasians” or ” Indo-Europeans” are the terms we would use for them in Europe or the UK.
At age 3 and 1 in Holland and at age 7 and 5 in Udaipur India with their mother after a visit to the Lake Palace.
We have been married for more than 40 years. The children grew up in the US – after four early years overseas – and made their friends here, of all races, white, brown and black. Both did well in school and managed to get good jobs. Both mix well with their cousins from Guyana, many of whom came here and were able to land excellent jobs as well. I as the white guy have no problem mixing with them. It is a matter of attitude and ability to adjust. Two grandchildren came out wonderfully.
Multiculturalism does not mean that different races and cultures should merge to become gray and meaningless. On the contrary: it is fun to watch the different cultural expressions in chant, dance, music, theater and fashion. Cultures are shaped by birth, family, country history, and language. Racial and color differences are, of course, part of cultures. It is unavoidable, and it does sometimes create tensions. In Africa, members of different tribes don’t marry each other for cultural reasons. In India, marriage between different casts is rare. In Bangladesh, we read marriage ads asking for a “fair skinned” partner. Obviously, I have a different background having grown up in Holland, and so has my wife having grown up in a Caribbean country. Different customs, education, food, and family relationships. That does not mean intellectual differences or capacity. The two of us came to the conclusion we did not have anything against each other. Different colors, yes, but not different mindsets. Cultural differences do not have to degrade into racial hatred. Surely not in the US after Martin Luther King showed the way, and many black families have reached his dream since then.
I hope I am not affronting people but in the US, leadership on the issue of racial divide has utterly failed. I am not going into the often self-inflicted tragedies of the past, either by “white” or “black.” But I would have expected that under a black President, who is half-white, the US would rave reached racial reconciliation rather than an increased racial hatred. I blame this administration for this hapless situation. It started with the President saying that if he had had a son, he would have looked like Trevon Martin. And while not openly, everybody knew he meant that the “White Hispanic” was the culprit. He was cleared in court. Similarly at Ferguson, the administration took the side of the black man who was fatally shot by a police officer. The huge damage that ensued was inflamed further by the likes of Al Sharpton, only to be rectified in court.
The same for the turmoil in New York and Baltimore. And so on. From the get-go, this administration has let racial hatred run out of control. They did not take seriously that a new black panther group was emerging. Their laxity gave birth to the black lives matter revolt. Because of this uncontrolled hatred, we see white cop-killing create absolute havoc in Dallas. And the police feels besieged and constraint in their role to protect the citizens. And this while nobody of these so-called “leaders” addresses the immense issue of black to black killing in urban areas. But as soon as it is white to black, particularly when the police are concerned, cities are set ablaze. After all these years, nothing has changed, only gotten worse. And the sensation-driven media has undoubtedly helped to fan the flames. Sensation pays, while certain politicians pander to the black vote.
What is needed in the US is a fundamental regime change and not the type of “fundamental change of America” this administration has been pursuing. Inner-city rehabilitation, better schooling, jobs, removal of gangs, and support of the police to ensure productive community life and order to enforce the law. Someone who can keep all these conflicting interests out of each other’s hairs and put them to work productively. And some enlightened black leadership, again. It may take some tough measures in the beginning. Too much to ask?
I am sure many mixed couples in the US deplore the current situation. We do. But in our little fiefdom of racial harmony, we know multicultural relationships work. So why not make an effort and turn things around instead of battling, screaming at each other, and killing the cops who protect us?