At Home and "Global" in the US: Edwidge Danticat

Play
Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Edwidge Danticat — loyal child of Port au Prince and Brooklyn — says in conversation: “I always feel like I bring some of there to here, and some of here to there.”

edwidgeLike her friend from the Dominican east side of Hispaniola Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat is writing “global” literature in our midst, for our mainstream, documenting the “permanent floating” migration games and the fascinating creolization of identities in our time.

The definitions of identity are so fluid. Sometimes people in Haiti will say, “well, you’re Haitian if you live here.” That’s one definition. There’s global youth culture. It would be hard to tell a kid from Johannesburg from a kid from Sao Paulo or Rio or Port au Prince if you put three of them together and they didn’t speak.

There are kids in Port au Prince who don’t even speak English but can recite to you an entire 50 Cent song, who can “do” Kanye West with the same accent and tonality…

If you concentrate on young black men of a certain age in all these places I’ve mentioned in the African diaspora, if you think of them as a particular element of the diaspora, and the disuniting of them throughout time and our history — you know, the slave trade and so forth — then I think these things, whether you like them or not, like hip-hop might be the only common culture there is. If might be the one thing in which all these young men from all these different places can see themselves as one.

All this is part of a cosmopolitan culture, which is usually an urban experience of living in crowded places in a kind of outsider status. These are people who are trying to redefine their outsider status and make something that others find appealing, as they young men and women did in the Bronx with Rap, when that began. You see it in the Paris suburbs — young people who know they’re not part of the main culture: they’re lucky if someone thinks they’re French, or unlucky! They know they have this outsider status. A lot of them, taking their cue from Rap, are trying to create a culture of their own. That interests me a great deal! Young immigrant people who are struggling to become part of a culture, or if that doesn’t happen trying to create a culture of their own that they can belong to and that others end up emulating. That’s their inclusion. That’s where they belong. They create their own belonging.

Edwidge Danticat, in conversation with Chris Lydon, Watson Institute, Brown University, September 18, 2007

Edwidge Danticat has just been through her own “year of magical thinking,” encompassing the deaths of the father and uncle who brought her up, and the birth of her own daughter in Miami, all in the space of a few months. Her new non-fiction book, Brother, I’m Dying is a cool, meticulous chronicle of family history, of sudden shock and turmoil, and of her heart, breaking and surging.

The first part of our conversation tells one of those “refugee stories” that could seem someday to typify this era of mass displacement. Danticat’s 81-year-old uncle Joseph was a Baptist minister in Port au Prince. In the autumn of 2004, in fear for his life in a neighborhood beset by gangs, he fled to Miami, en route to his brother’s place in New York. Though he had visited the States many times and had a current tourist visa, he was detained, then shackled by Homeland Security officers who saw him as “another black man trying to get in.” In his “credible fear” asylum interview, Joseph Dantica vomited violently in an apparent seizure, but humanitarian parole was not to be considered, nor the process interrupted. “I think he’s faking,” said the medic on duty. Then suddenly Joseph failed. “His eyes are open and he’s not unconscious,” the medic commented. “I still think he’s faking, but we’ll take him to the clinic.” Then suddenly, at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Joseph Dantica was dead. When Edwidge saw his body, she was struck by the look of anger on her gentle uncle’s face — a look described in Haitian Creole by a word meaning “you were choked by your own blood.”


  • hurley

    An enjoyable interview, but as often on these stripped-down broadcasts the volume too low. I’ve tweaked every button on this computer to compensate, but still have to lean in. Maybe someone out there knows how to augment the sound-levels on a Mac?

    Unless I missed something in the last two interviews in this very interesting series, which is likely, Chris has yet to ask about language, the problems of writing in what is presumably a second-language, what is lost, what is gained, etc. It might be worth looking into. Thanks as ever, C & co.

  • Potter

    Thank you so much for bringing us Edwidge Danticot, beautiful, and peaceful, a pleasure to listen to.

    Hurley- regarding the sound- it really wonderful, clear and two channels, Chris on one and Edwide on the other, on my Mac, but with earbuds or headphones.

  • Potter

    Sorry that’s Edwidge-

    Okay I am going to read:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/06/11/070611fa_fact_danticat

    ( and there are other short stories at the site)

    thanks……..

  • Potter

    “Mary Micheline”

    I did read it last night and I recommend it. It won’t take long and it’s a good taste of Edwidge, her writing and her world.

    I am in Brooklyn a lot. My elderly mother has a Haitian woman so very sweet and peaceful helping her. We feel fortunate. Shall I say to her (her name is Marie also) “ayee bo-bo” (phonetic)? What kind of reaction will I get? I think she will laugh and wonder where I got it.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    The term “African Diaspora”, in the same sense as the “Jewish Diaspora”, aside from being just a state of mind, is obsolete. Nobody uses the term anymore. Well apparently some do, so let’s take another look. As a Jew I find it offensive that Blacks co-opted the term “Diaspora” from us, in the same way that they “borrowed” the term ‘reparations’ with reference to slavery, in spite of the fact that there are no living descendants from that period, unlike some Jews who are still alive who lived through the Holocaust. Furthermore, I reject the notion that Blacks and Jews are “besieged bedfellows” in the political arena.

    There was a time when I pondered the meaning of the term “Diaspora”, along with “the right of return” and so forth. During that time I didn’t realize that this was a construct put forth by religious Jewish intellectuals seeking to pull me back “into the fold”. Not that there is anything insidious about this in and of itself, but it turned out to be rather dismissive of my upbringing as an American. Over time my individuality rejected the notion of spiritual communism; that the people trying to pull me in understood very well the Jewish predilection of feeling uncomfortable in one’s own environment. Jews will attach themselves to political or spiritual causes wherever they may be because they feel that the world needs fixing. Armed with this new spirituality I reinforced my tribal instincts. This has a certain intoxicating affect and I can see why people get hung up on it, sometimes permanently. I slowly convinced myself that the world was revolving around my shoulders. I could fix a world that didn’t want to be fixed. I could over emphasize my own self importance by contrasting my highly abstract beliefs against those who disagree with me; the more I was supposed to “thrive during adversity” – an ethnocentric exercise in intolerance and stubbornness. I was exalted. And then later on, after a conscious effort to unlearn the process, I began to realize that this burden wasn’t my own. I had just borrowed it for a while to put it under a microscope. I didn’t need it, and I wasn’t born into it. What a miserable way to live though. Diving in was easy, but I had to fight hard to come back. And this is why I am an American before I am a Jew.

    Black intellectuals are reiterating this “Diaspora” motif in their own community. In my opinion it is bound to fail because it is too tribal. Tribalism is not something Blacks need more of. In fact it is the opposite. They need to think and behave more rationally. Raising the “Diaspora” consciousness in young Blacks will further alienate them from the 21st century skills they need to survive in an increasingly technological environment. Blacks who live in the West need tacticians to teach them how to survive, not poets or strategists, or childish concepts like “Magical thinking” to sidetrack them even more. Learning to use a keyboard or speaking correct grammar, or figuring out ways to strengthen marital bonds in the Black community is far more important than complaining about White people or slavery this and slavery that. Jews seem to be doing pretty well for themselves not long after the Holocaust. Then again, how much time have Blacks had to pull themselves up since the end of slavery?

  • rc21

    GvB, Nice post. I tend to agree with you. Although there is nothing wrong with keeping in touch with ones roots or culture. ( not saying you are aginst this)

  • Potter

    But there is a big difference between a Jew’s situation and a black person’s. A black person cannot hide and so must deal not only with what is going on inside, the inherited effects of injustices, but ongoing racism as well. The Jew no longer needs the protection of the “tribe”, no longer suffers such adversity and intolerance. The “tribalism” GVB refers to is not occurring in a vacuum.

    I’m grateful for the artists and poets, like Edwidge Danticot, who give us a window into their souls.

  • rc21

    Potter. Why do you still hold racist feelings towards blacks?

    I think this country has come along way in race relations. Just look at the presidential race. The country has gone ga-ga over a totally inexperienced canidate who can’t seem to give a staight answer to a simple question. Much of his popularity is based soley on his race and charisma,Certainly not on his record or ideas.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Potter,

    Are you saying that because Jews no longer need the protection of the tribe that Blacks “therefore” “also” don’t need it? Or are you saying that because Blacks still have a hard time of it that they “therefore” need it? I don’t understand which way the analogy is polarized. On the other hand I agree that (“religious”) Jews no longer need it. However, they practice tribalism anyway. How do you explain that? I am not suggesting that tribalism precludes progress. I am saying that to embrace tribalism means that the venues to success are more limited.

    I like the “hide” thing. It happens to be true. When a Jew checks “White” on a job application I think this is false because Jews are Semitic, not Occidental. Hence the term anti-Semitism.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Using myself as an example, I think a good case can be made that getting along in society involves the giving of something of one’s self to the collective. You can’t keep everything. You must give something to get something in return. As a Jew, if every time I encountered a problem I somehow connected it to the Holocaust, it would be impossible for me to make serious progress in my life. I would be using the same excuse for different problems, banging my head up against the wall hoping to discover an answer to life’s nuances while pointing the same finger, singing the same song, and preaching the same inept victim and victimizer world view.

    My personal experiences with Blacks here in NY are that they seem to be incapable of surrendering that part of themselves which would inevitably yield positive results. They are afraid to smile at White people because they feel that by doing so they are agreeing to some White philosophical point of view or admitting that they were wrong about something. But they smile at other Blacks all the time. The fact that their lives are so difficult is not because of “racism”. It is because of an unwillingness to surrender that part of themselves to the collective as an investment to improve their future.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    It’s funny how violence in Black communities is 750% higher than in White communities, but yet Blacks are 90% against the war in Iraq. One would think that with such a proclivity for violence one would be in favor of the war, any war. One would also think that after what they claim to have been through historically Blacks might take advantage of our democratic system by showing some fairness, not bias, when sitting on a jury. Not so. They rule overwhelmingly in favor of Blacks and against Whites. One would think that blacks might have a more diversified political base than 85% democratic, or favoring Barack Obama simply because he is Black. There is a difference between informed descent and an ignorant abuse of power and freedom. They can cut their nose to spite their face, and I’ll buy stock in McDonalds. How’s that for a trade off?

  • rc21

    GvB. One must also acknowledge that every group or sub group loves being a victim.

    Gays, blacks, Indians, handicapped, elderly, hispanic, muslim,etc etcThe list is endless. When you are a victim of some great white, imperialistic,giant all encompassing entity, then you really have a built in excuse for every one of your own personal failings.

    No personal accountability or responsibility for ones own actions required. Its all the fault of you know who.

  • Potter

    RC21 asks: Potter. Why do you still hold racist feelings towards blacks?

    Why am I not surprised you should ask such a question? Your post seems racist to me.

    As well, the appeal of Obama is NOT race, I believe, but his record, short though it is, and his ideas. (The opposite of what you say).

    True we may have come a long way, but you discount what happened (for instance) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which I will not get into. That was a BIG indication of where we are in this country. Every now and then we get our temperature taken.

    And I can’t educate you or GVB on why blacks who have suffered so many injustices from our system can’t be fair on juries and act “tribally”.

    GVB says “Are you saying that because Jews no longer need the protection of the tribe that Blacks “therefore” “also” don’t need it? Or are you saying that because Blacks still have a hard time of it that they “therefore” need it? I don’t understand which way the analogy is polarized.”

    I said it as simply as I could: Jews no longer NEED the protection of the tribe- not here in the USA. That is not to say that some don’t feel more comfortable within it. There was a shameful time in this country of when “no Jews or Blacks” signs appeared in public places. That is gone on the surface anyway. No signs out now. Now Jews don’t have to tell. They can even wear their religous garb in places. Blacks can’t hide anywhere.

    Racial prejudice is deeply ingrained. I don’t know but I would bet that it’s more deeply ingrained than religious prejudice. I was reminded of this while watching “The War”, Ken Burns series. The Japanese and the blacks were segregated in battle. They were used on the hardest missions because they were so fiercely driven to prove themselves. And it was the Japanese Americans, not the Italians or the Germans, that were placed in concentration camps.

    Jews can live anywhere now if they so choose. Blacks still cannot. Yes legally they can but…..

    That’s NOT to say there has not been progress.

    Religious Jews CHOOSE to live in their own communities to practice their religion. That’s different from living separately because one is not welcome elsewhere and one cannot achieve the education and the earnings and therefore status and acceptance. If you are black and happen to have achieved money or status somehow, it may be different. Also living in a mostly white community is not the same culturally. I can understand the choice, given that one has the ability to live elsewhere, to live amongst one’s own culture. That’s different than having to do so because one is not welcomed elsewhere.

    Jews, religious ones who live in their own little communities, if they are so inclined, manage to be quite successful more easily in the larger society though many are not interested in making a whole lot of money, they have other values such as having the time to practice their religion.

    Let’s not forget the basics: Jews were not brought here involuntarily to be slaves some 400 years ago. That has had enduring effects through the generations right through to the present time.

    Jews should understand this because the traumas of their history through the generations. That Jews have been able to asssimilate has made a big difference in their progress and acceptance.

    This discussion is proof of the disconnect between black, white (and other “races”). There is a kneejerk reaction that is entirely self-serving. Some people ARE actually victims and suffer still from prejudices.. And responses to those enduring have also been handed down.

    Some arrive on here earth into a situation in which they have handicaps from day one.

  • Potter

    That should read:

    Some people ARE actually victims and suffer still from prejudices. Responses to those prejudices are enduring as well and have also been handed down.

    (in other words, changing attitudes and prejudices is very slow)

  • Potter

    Godzilla says: “As a Jew I find it offensive that Blacks co-opted the term “Diaspora” from us, in the same way that they “borrowed” the term ‘reparations’ with reference to slavery, in spite of the fact that there are no living descendants from that period, unlike some Jews who are still alive who lived through the Holocaust.”

    I find it offensive to claim that the Greek term “diaspora” the orgins of which were in ancient Greece, Athens, then used in reference to Jews in Deuteronomy, was “co-opted” as thought that or any word first used belongs soley to that purpose. Genocide is not only about Jews, nor the concept of reparation “borrowed”: from Jews. For instance see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_reparations

    where you will find that Rome imposed indemnities on Carthage after the Punic Wars… and many other instances that pre-date the Jewish use of the idea of reparation. The word itself, according the the dictionary, dates back to the 14th century, from Middle English, French and Latin, but the idea of repairing and making amends is ancient.

  • Potter

    The other notion, that because there are no living descendants, no reparations are warranted is arguable.

    Many agree that afirmative action is necessary to make amends for the past and it’s effects, the enduring prejudices that continue through to today.

    Jews who are children of holocaust survivors, suffer as well and are asking for reparations:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,480901,00.html

  • http://users.eastlink.ca/~treadway/outersum bft

    Other city!

  • rc21

    Potter I ask the question because you make the claim.

    I am not racist and I don’t keep company with racists. I live and work in a rather large multicultural setting dealing with hundreds even thousands of people.

    Are there some who may have racist feelings twords others? Propbably, but these feelings would be held by people both white,black hispanic,or Asian,and they would be very few in number.

    So I can only assume from your comment, that you hold some racist feelings for blacks or you hang out with alot of racists. Otherwise you would not make such a statement,because I’m sure you would never make such ugly insinuations about people you don’t know on a fairly personal level.

    Unless what you were trying to say is all white people except YOU still hold racist feelings towards blacks.

  • Potter

    What claim, RC21, did I make that post ( Oct 6 @ 8:59 )that caused you to call me racist? Saying there is still and ongoing racism makes me racist?

    And where, pray tell do you get that racist feelings are held by only a “few in number”? You invented it that’s what.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Potter,

    It is obvious that you are preoccupied with certain ideas and that you allow them to interfere with the subject at hand. This thread is NOT about “genocide”! But yet you felt the need to point out that “Genocide is not only about Jews”. Are you ASSUMING that I was claiming that it is or that I even alluded to it? But yet you chose to play psychic and judge me by your own [delusional] standards. I noticed that this happens a lot on this site – especially when Jews are involved. It’s kind of funny actually. People begin to self destruct emotionally when they discuss Jews. I didn’t realize we had that much power. It is as if you can’t keep to the subject at hand or making off color remarks designed to cajole what YOU think may be tribal instincts in an attempt to derail the subject. Could it be that you feel the need to get me to admit that “Genocide is not only about Jews” is some kind of litmus test, BEFORE you feel comfortable talking about the subject at hand? Surely you mind is not THAT dominated by the thought of Jews … or is it?

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Potter,

    I read the Children of Holocaust Survivors [who] Plan Suit against Germany article. Later on I discussed it with two other Jewish people, one of whom was alive during the Holocaust. We are all in agreement that the people in Israel concocting this lawsuit deserve nothing. It is ridiculous and Germany should fight it.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Potter,

    The Original Hebrew was mistranslated by Greeks not fluent in the language or culture; later plagiarized and distorted by early patristic writers and (Pagan-soon-to-be-Catholic) Church fathers; the truth of the period hidden from the populace by these murderers who attempted to co-opt the Jewish religion, etc. It is an academic question that was, quite easily, solved in my mind a long time ago. However, LOL, I need to check your feelings about this BEFORE we continue discussing the [Black] “Diaspora”, quotes mine. Savvy?

  • Potter

    Godzilla,

    Your post of Oct 3 @ 1:01 pm brings up YOUR Jewish obsession, not mine, and here for the first time- which is a shame. Perhaps I made it worse by addressing it directly and bringing in the example of how the word “genocide” gets some Jews ( not you here) upset when used in conjunction with anything other than the Holocaust. It was just another example that your objection to the use of “diaspora” for any other situation other than for Jews brought to mind. This you claim even though the word has ancient Greek origins and is used universally today including to describe the Palestinian dispersion.

    What would be the problem with conceding that and my other points pray tell instead of playing defense and making claims for Jews that you do not represent. You don’t represent me.

    So I was actually keeping to the subject at hand prior to your “Jewish post” coopting the discussion into your personal issues and preoccupation regarding Jews, not mine here.

    But obviously I made it worse by registering my objection.

    Have you or RC21 even read any of Edwidge Danticot, the subject at hand by the way??? I’ll bet not.

    I just finished my second short piece and am looking for more. She’s good! And this is broadening me, giving me more understanding. You guys seem stuck in your prejudices, very blatantly displayed here.

    Okay- I have reached the end of my ability to be relatively civil….

  • rc21

    Potter. You claimed that blacks still have to deal with ongoing racism.

    As I said I don’t see it. You made the claim not me. I assume you are either dealing with these feelings or hanging around people who have these feelings.

    It’s the only conclusion I can draw from such a comment.

    My claim that racist feelings are held by few in number is in reference to the people I deal with on a daily basis. Actually the number is zero. I am allowing for the probability that there may be a few people who have kept their dislike for people based on race under wraps.

    We live in a new era. The sooner people can move beyond this garbage of my race is better than yours . Or your race has kept me down for 400 years . The sooner this debate will end.

    Unfortunately there are people who have a vested intrest in dividing the races. There is money to be made and votes to be bought,and others feel like they can cleanse their liberal guilt away.

    As I said if we lived in a racist society there is no way Obama would even attempt to run for president,never mind being seen as a front runner. This in itself is proof that we have come full circle from the days of segregation and discrimination. To deny this is just further proof that some people want racism to exist. It keeps their motor running .

    We are a country of 300 million are there some racist people of all colors in this population? Yes it would be foolish to suggest otherwise.Do they even form small groups? KKK, L.Farrakans (sp) nation of Islam quickly come to mind. These are hopefully fringe groups. I know the kkk is only a shell of its former self. Hopefully the same is true with the nation of Islam.

    These and other like minded people/groups represent a very small minority in our great country. The vast majority of people have moved well beyond this.

    In closing lets just look at a few undeniable facts. We have millions of black people who are dying to come to America. They come from many countries. Kenya,Ghana, Liberia,Nigeria, Haiti,Jamaica, etc. These people would have to be total morons to spend all there money or risk their lives to come to a country that was going to discriminate against them and treat them as 2nd class people.

    It would be akin to an American jew wanting to move to Germany in 1938.It would not happen. You would have to be insane or a masochist to do so.

    No these people come here for the simple reason that in America they can succeed like no where else in the world. They know if they work hard and obey the law they will live a better life. They know what you fail to admit, That America treats it’s citizens regardless of color better than any other nation.

  • Potter
  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Potter,

    The reason why I brought up “my obsession” with Judaism is because, as a Jew, I’ve been through the whole cultural thing, going to Israel, learning to speak some Hebrew, and thinking about converting to a “religious” lifestyle – in the end rejecting it, and using a lot of semi colons in the middle paragraph of my Oct. 3rd, 1:01 PM post – to, hopefully, EXPLAIN how my personal experience with pseudo-“assimilation” concepts may be applied to the subject at hand: the African “Diaspora” – and why I think the concept for Blacks is a bad one to indulge. The term “Diaspora” itself does not of course “belong to Jews”. That’s ridiculous. I didn’t think I had to spell out the meaning of the contemporary vernacular. The word itself, when used in the context of the subject of this thread, is applied to Jews more often than any other group. When you see or hear the word Holocaust (even out of context) who do you think of, Klingons? There was no need for you to isolate the word, taking it out of CONTEXT, and give a whole thing about its origins.

    You said “How the word “genocide” gets some Jews (not you here) upset when used in conjunction with anything other than the Holocaust”. So what? What does that have to do with our overall subject? Next time wait and find out where people are coming from BEFORE you presuppose anything. You just felt like bringing it up because you had nothing better to say, and it’s on your mind even though it has nothing to do with the CONTEXT. And then you said “It was just another example that your objection to the use of “Diaspora” for any other situation other than for Jews brought to mind”. This is laughable. Calm down. Try to control your emotions. I NEVER said that. I said I object to Blacks using it. It is interesting how you also brought up the “Palestinian dispersion”. LOL, you need to get hold of yourself! Stick to the subject at hand.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Potter,

    You said “What would be the problem with conceding that and my other points pray tell instead of playing defense and making claims for Jews that you do not represent. You don’t represent me”. You are correct about the etymology of the word: Diaspora. And I am correct about its contemporary usage. I still stand by what I said … that Blacks got the idea from us, and that I resent it. Fact is, the term “Jewish Diaspora” is still, unfortunately, in use although not as much. You have a BIG PROBLEM with CONTEXT. You don’t understand CONTEXT very well. I represent no one except myself and those who happen to agree with me. Most who agree don’t say it out loud anyway. This is my point of view and I couldn’t care less who agrees with me, or not. I come here to exchange knowledge and learn and teach. And hopefully meet some nice people along the way.

    My “Jewish post”, as you put it, has pedantic value in this thread because the analogy to the African “Diaspora” is a direct one. And who better to write about it than someone who lived through it? You said “Have you or RC21 even read any of Edwidge Danticot, the subject at hand by the way??? I’ll bet not. I just finished my second short piece and am looking for more. She’s good! And this is broadening me, giving me more understanding. You guys seem stuck in your prejudices, very blatantly displayed here”. I’ve read every word on this thread and listened to the interview with Chris Lydon. Have I read her book? LOL, no. And I don’t intend to. If you want to bend over, by all means, bend over. But don’t ask me to bend over. When you reach across the table and take food off of someone else’s plate without permission, don’t complain when they get involved!!

  • Potter

    The subject at hand is not how you define it Godzilla. There was and still is a window here that it seems you won’t look through you are so busy looking in the mirror.

    Regarding the use of the word “diaspora” and Potter’s interpretation that he only approve of it in the Jewish context Godzilla says: I NEVER said that. I said I object to Blacks using it.

    when what you ACTUALLY said was:

    As a Jew I find it offensive that Blacks co-opted the term “Diaspora” from us, in the same way that they “borrowed” the term ‘reparations’ with reference to slavery, in spite of the fact that there are no living descendants from that period, unlike some Jews who are still alive who lived through the Holocaust. Furthermore, I reject the notion that Blacks and Jews are “besieged bedfellows” in the political arena.

    You misrepresent what you said. And it was that latter quote that I reacted to WITHIN YOUR CONTEXT.

    Then you get into your own personal battle which somehow segues into friendly advice to blacks.

    Diaspora merely means a dispersion. It’s legitimate today in a variety of situations from Africans to the Irish for one reason or another. It is you who put your own emotions ( and claims) into the concept Godzilla under the guise of this friendly advice and objections to blacks using the term. The use of “diaspora” implies no particular syndrome as far as I can tell and I think it is useful for understanding how certain people who have been dispersed may feel. That feeling may persist or wear away depending on circumstance and situation. It does imply a return or a wish to return and perhaps an original injustice. I think it is that which you personally rebel against or deny or have gone past as you claim to be American first. So fine for you.

    Still it WAS you, wasn’t it now, who brought up Jews and their situation and yours in particular. It feels like you can’t get out of yourself which is why maybe you are not interested in reading Danticot and consider it “bending over”. That’s nothing to “LOL” about IMHO. You like your own world. Fine too.

    Also, it matters very little or not at all where blacks or Africans may have gotten the notion to call their dispersion a diaspora. What matters is that their situation fits perfectly with the meaning of the word. That word does not belong to Jews. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t I can’t tell.

    Also, if you don’t care who agrees with you how can you claim to be coming here to “exchange knoweldge and learn……”? That seems contradictory.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    And now back to our story.

    If for example a Mexican immigrant were to achieve legal status here in America, that does not mean that he or she now embraces and appreciates the cultural values and history. All the Russian people I’ve ever met disapprove of President Bush’s foreign policy and overwhelmingly favor Vladimir Putin. Most Americans would not approve of Putin, no matter which side of the political spectrum they’re on. Most Chinese people don’t vote, but the ones who do overwhelmingly vote democratic. Jews vote democratic around the same as Blacks – I think its 82%.

    What is the point to all this? First. As rc21 said “There is nothing wrong with keeping in touch with one’s roots or culture”. But when the [ancestral] roots of one’s culture are used to chastise the culture one grew up in (or a culture one did not grow up in) it creates a cycle of discomfort with the “host nation”. It allows one to play the victim while casting others in the role of evil. It is a convenient excuse for giving up while passing the buck. The “Diaspora” is a psychological state that does not exist in reality. It is a romantic notion; a subjective and emotional phenomenon alive only in the mind of the observer. I should know. I’ve lived through it myself.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Second.

    If say, [religious] Jews, Chinese, Russians, Mexicans, and Blacks are suspicious and untrusting of outsiders, and I believe they are, then that group will remain a culture within a culture, hermetically sealed off from the greater culture or “core culture”, retaining minority status and the psychology of the “victim”. This didn’t happen to the Irish. The first generation Irish who came here have successfully assimilated. The definition of “Diaspora” according to Dictionary.com is rather flexible, but generally meaning “Any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland”. What does this say about Blacks who have been in America for generations or about how they intend to teach their young? Is America not their homeland? Is Africa “The Homeland”, or is it the ‘ancestral’ homeland? Unless one desired to be among the starvation, systemic political corruption, anarchy, genocide, homicide, AIDS, lack of education, and a complete absence of anything resembling “morality” or familial structure, I don’t understand why they would refer to Africa as their “homeland”. ‘Ancestral’ homeland I can understand, but “homeland”? If the urge to help Africans is so strong then – I don’t mean this sarcastically – why don’t the ones who feel this way go there to help out?

    I know from personal experience as a Jew that the allure of tribalism is intoxicating. A far away idea or concept can be sweet to the mind as wine is sweet to the lips. But when finally confronted with that faraway place, as I was in Israel, I discovered that it wasn’t what I thought. It was just a ‘place’, far away from ‘this’ place. So I disagree with Edwidge Danticat who claims that “The definitions of identity are so fluid. Sometimes people in Haiti will say, “well, you’re Haitian if you live here.” A well balanced individual is the same no matter where he or she, is. This is a good transition into the Second Theme I would like to discuss: Identity and the Legal vs. the Spiritual Status in Pseudo-assimilation Processes.