September 19, 2007

This Land Is Our Land





I talked to my Aunt Polly on the phone today. She is one of my few remaining relatives, and that is by marriage. She is in her seventies, and has been diagnosed with a very serious kind of cancer, and is undergoing chemo. I'm not sure that it is going to be successful, but I pray that it will be. I call her all the time, just to tell her that I love her, and to talk, and to just allow her to talk. She and my uncle had seven children, and she has lost three of them, tragically, over the years, and sometimes that is what she wants to talk about.

Today, we somehow got on the subject of the different places she's lived--the different houses, and the times that I visited her, and spent weeks with her, while I was growing up, and afterwards. She misses her old house--she is now living with a son and daughter-in-law. She said that she wishes that she hadn't had to sell her old house, but that she knew she couldn't stay there anymore, the way things were. She was not talking about her cancer--she was speaking of what her old neighborhood has become.

She has lived her whole life there, in that town in Georgia that I've mentioned in my other stories on here. Her parents lived in a little house in the mill village, from the time that Aunt Polly was a little girl, and long years afterwards, too. During the latter years, while her mother was ailing, and until she died, Aunt Polly and Uncle Bo lived there with her in that same house. After my uncle died, she remained there, until about four years ago. She had always felt safe there, never locking her doors--not even at night.

But something happened to that little mill village. Gradually, over the past few years, every single dwelling there has been purchased by Hispanics. It is no longer the quiet, peaceful little community it once was where you could sit out on the porch-swing, any hour of the day or night, and feel safe. Now, at any hour there are cars racing up and down the street, loud shouting, crowds of people walking up and down the sidewalk, music blaring out of the passing cars, and adjoining houses. Once, while I was spending some time with her, there was a drive-by shooting, very close to her house. Only a few of the yards are still well-kept--most of them now have large stalks of corn, or something else, growing up the sides of the houses. The last time that I was there, a year ago, we drove by Aunt Polly's old place, and driving up the street, and around the neighborhood, I was reminded of the times, years ago, that I visited Tiajuana, Mexico.

All up and down the streets, going into town, the stores' windows are filled with signs in Spanish, and when you go into some of them, it is all Hispanic, and you hear only Spanish being spoken. It is almost surreal, making you feel like you took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in another country. And the icing on the cake to this whole thing, is that her daughter-in-law who had worked for several years at a convenience store, was "let go" a few months ago. The new owners are Hispanic, and they hired only other Hispanics, and I'm sure, members of their own family. And it isn't only that store--it is happening all over the place , including many towns in the adjoining state of Alabama. Like it or not, that's the way it is now and we are expected to just accept it.

After all, we mustn't offend anyone. Not even if they are trying to change everything that was once dear, and familiar, to us all.

32 comments:

Lydia said...

Hi Jan, I hear many people on t.v. get angry when folks from the middle east get investigated more than other people do since 9/11. Some people say that we're stereo typing. Nothing against the many folks living among the honest and good muslem community, but middle eastern terrorists are the people who attacked our country and continue to be a threat to us, making it hard not to single out middle easterners for questioning, who maybe acting suspicious.

The Hermit said...

Well said. People of common sense know that what you say is correct, but they aren't the ones running the country. The politicians want to corner the market on Hispanic voters, and they don't care what they have to do to accomplish that. This is true of both major parties. As Louis XIV said "after me, the deluge."

sue said...

I couldn't have said it better.

rockync said...

This is always a tricky subject and being the daughter of immigrants, it gets complicated for me. But I agree with what you are trying to convey. We do come from many backgrounds with many languages and I think it is wonderful to raise our children with traditions and the language of their ancestors. That being said,the problem of folks emmigrating to the US and then forming these tight ethnic groups within communities and refusing to learn the language of their adopted country does not make them look like good candidates for citizenship. I believe there are those who come here to live that American Dream and I say God bless 'em! Those who refuse to adapt to the American way of life, I can only ask,"Why are you here?" My own parents struggled to learn English which was a very difficult language for them. When they got to where they could reasonably converse my father said,"We live in America, so now we speak English." And from that day forward we all spoke only English in the house when Dad was home. My mother and I continued to speak Czech when he wasn't around. For many years I mispronounced words due to learning them from my parents.Lead to some funny conversations...

Vin De Vine said...

Once upon a time this country, aside from its natural
north american residents consisted of a small number of
rebels, expatriots, religiously persecuted immigrants and
desperate farmers and peasant seeking a second chance.
Chance and desperation provided an opportunity for a melting
pot of divergent people of many different class and station
in life to form an alliance under a remarkable union of
united states. America became known as The United States.

This miraculous combination of determination and circumstance
took place at a time and location that would provide a wealth
of opportunity and a large enough territory to expand with
the growth of science, industry and agriculture. So of course
we cried "Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses
longing to be free..." It was more of a plea then than a
challenge. We did not even have our own language so we adopted
the queens english into our society.

Today we are still a melting pot of societies mixed into one
nation under God, but we are no longer a youthful country
even for our short years as compared to many other nations out
there. But we have come into our own. we no longer speak the
queens english though english is still the common title we place
on out language. Truth be told we speak American, and I for one
am proud to do so. We no longer cry out for the masses to come
to us because we have drawn more than our share of immigrants
over the years. Immigrants who came to share the American dream,
and in doing so made subtle changes over the years by their
contibuion and influence.

I am not against multiculteral influence, nor am I without empathy
for the new neighbor who has not mastered the american dialect
and struggles to communicate in our society. I do not have patience
for the wanna be american that refuses to adapt. The opportunists
who are offended by the idea of giving up the lifestyles and customs
of persecution and repression and instead take pride in exploiting
their own neighbohood with the same cultural blight that brought
them here in the first place.

I am also not put off when I must speak a second language if I want
to visit the corner store in my own hometown. I have nothing against
preserving cultural heritage. If you want to speak your native tongue,
good for you! You have pride and intelligence and a sense of loyatly
to your roots. That is not a bad thing. But do not expect to mold
America into your own image. America is so much more than any one
culture we are an American culture. We have standards, laws, codes
and ethics by which we live as a whole. True they still are in flux
and change as the society itself evolves. But the basic principles
still hold fast.

Freedom, liberty and goodwill are still cornerstones that motivate
our society. Despite the influx of humanity that corrupts business,
government, prejudice and religion; we are continually twisting knobs
and messing with the dials to fine tune our culture. so, giving that
as much as it is the right of the american people to change the
American way of life in favor of adopting some poor underdeveloped
societies repressed lifestyle, why on earth would we?

rockync said...

Well put, Vin.

Jan said...

Lydia..yes, terrorists are a real threat, no matter what nationality they happen to be.

Our country is threatened in many ways, and our economy suffers immensely because of illegal immigration.

Jan said...

hermit...exactly!

It's a shame, but facts are facts, and no one can deny them.

Jan said...

Sue..thanks.

Jan said...

rockync..many of my friends are of other nationalities, but they are like your parents. They, or their relatives, came to this country, legally, and followed the laws, and became welcome, good citizens, contributing to our society, while still retaining their own ethnicity. They haven't thumbed their noses at our laws, and ways of life, but have blended in, and become a part of the thread of this country. I think that is why America is called a "melting pot"..but some want to establish their own country in this one. That's something entirely different.

I appreciate your comment.

Jan said...

"as much as it is the right of the american people to change the
American way of life in favor of adopting some poor underdeveloped
societies repressed lifestyle, why on earth would we?"

Vin..exactly.

I appreciate your comment.

NICKEL said...

Great blog and I loved all the comments. Thanks.

Jan said...

nickel..thank you!

I'm glad you came by!

Granny J said...

The problem with the great Hispanic invasion is not that it is multicultural but that it is monocultural. The British Isles are breaking apart along ethnic lines, Belgium is coming apart and we are expected to applaud folk that will not become part of our culture. Phooey.

Jan said...

grannyj..you are right!

I think that way too much is expected of us, in light of everything that is going on in this country.

Thank you for dropping by!

Olivia Kroth said...

I wonder, dear Jan, what your Cherokee ancestors might have said when white settlers from Europa invaded "their land", killing their people, cutting down their trees, polluting the air and their rivers, forcing them to turn away from their indigenous languages and religions in order to become English-speaking Christians.

I think the indigenous peoples of America and of other continents were very wise when they said that land does not "belong" to anybody. It is given by God/The Great Spirit or whatever we want to call him. We human beings may live on earth but we are not the owners. Never.

rockync said...

Olivia, it is a sentiment that many would like to embrace but in order to have a world without borders we would need global cooperation amongst all its citizens, one set of global laws and a single monetary or trading unit. While I would welcome the ensuing peace and harmony that would exist in such a world, I think it's a little too idealistic to be viable; much like Marx's original Utopia.

Jan said...

rockync..well spoken.

People of common sense realize that there is no such thing as Utopia.

Jan said...

Olivia..I have no idea what my Cherokee ancestors might have said about what happened to them, since I never got to ask them.

Neither do I know what my German ancesters might have thought about what went on in their native country, where millions of human beings were slaughtered like animals during Hitler's reign of terror and madness.

Olivia Kroth said...

Hi, rockync,
remember I live in Karl Marx's country. He was German, too.

Hi, Jan,
Cherokees have a voice. They have spoken and written many beautiful texts in which they moan the loss of their culture - slaughtered by the white settlers invading their country.
So do the Jews, Roma, Sinti, homosexuals, and all the other people slaughtered by the Nazis, not only in Germany, but all over Europe between 1939 and 1945. They have voices, too. Their children and great-children write poems, novels, articles in newspapers. They speak on the radio and TV about the genocide which happened in Europe, caused by the Nazis.

Those who have eyes, should read.
Those who have ears, should listen.

GUYK said...

olivia, those who have no idea about what they are talking about should just STFU!

Sound to me like you are an avid follower of Marx

Jan said...

Olivia..we have read, and we have listened, and we pray that none of those atrocities ever happen again in any country.

In spite of all of the problems in this country, America is still the greatest country in the world!

Olivia Kroth said...

Hi guyk,

no, I am not a follower of Karl Marx. But even if I were - what would be so terrible about it? There is such a thing as freedom of thought and speech in "the greatest country of the world", isn't there?

You do not seem to understand the subjunctive form in your own language, not to speak of all the finer nuances that the wonderful English language offers.

Your use of vocabulary is rather coarse, if I may say so. I do not understand what STFU means. Maybe it is better that I don't. I do not like to be talked to in such a vulgar way.

GUYK said...

That is the beautiful part of free speech..I can tell you socialists to just STFU

GUYK said...

Yep, Ain't Germany just great? http://hnn.us/articles/12640.html


The German government, in the context of highly politicized elections, however, has begun to enforce the denaturalization of those Turks who reacquired Turkish citizenship, and it is estimated that approximately 50,000 Turks have lost their German citizenship. Approximately a third of these denaturalized Germans, re-applied for Turkish citizenship when it was still legal, but the acquisition took so long that they received only after the new law had passed. This denaturalization of a minority population eerily echoes Germany’s past sins. Citizenship has always signified the equality among residents before the law. Non-citizens have always had a secondary status. As Hannah Arendt so lucidly describes in the Origins of Totalitarianism, the first thing that the Nazis did in order be able to carry out its plans for the Jewish population was to strip them of their citizenship because non-citizens do not have rights.

Olivia Kroth said...

Hi guyk,

did you acquire your wisdom while sipping a bottle of Jack Daniels? You sound like it.

GUYK said...

Olivia, one time a German and an American met on a one way bridge..the German honked his horn, flashed his lights and yelled..the American was driving a bigger car as Americans usually do and no doubt it would have been easier for the German to back off the bridge. But the German being a snooty German yelled, "I will not back off for a fool!" The American said, Well, I will."

I was that American..and I back off here for a fool. You may have the last word...

Olivia Kroth said...

Big car, little brain, guyk.

GUYK said...

lol when you can't win with logic nor refute the argument just attack the messenger, typical socialist thinking

Jan, I do apologize for getting into a pissing contest in your house. I will not do it again nor will I respond anymore to dumb shits..I figure that I will never get the chance to shoot any Germans but I have no doubt my grandkids will..I am traing them how to shoot because German mentality will demand that they try to take over the world again, and again, and again, and again

Jan said...

We all have our moments, guyk...your's were just a little more expressive, that's all. ;)

Livey said...

wow my children were fighting and I wasn't paying attention! I should spank you all! Be nice!

Jan said...

Livey..nuh-uh...just having a debate. LOL

But we will behave from now, ok? :)