Nana 6 (Race and Ethnicity and Culture and Religion and Trauma)

I have hesitated to write the following as a brief post, filled with topics which could each comprise a tome of thousands of pages, but our precious granddaughter will arrive in the next few days and I will be penning observations in which all of them will feature, so I’ll provide some background now.  I am more of an observer and storyteller than I am philosopher or theologian, so I will be narrating and commenting, rather than seeking to create some overarching political statement.  And I will do the best I can to stick to my own story, as other stories belong to other individuals.

My son and his fiancée are the same age, 34, but their lives have followed different paths.  When they were seven, he was a Montessori first grader in the middle of the United States, secure and happy and enamored of sharks and dinosaurs.  She was a member of a large family and growing up in a Somali village, to which the violence and destructiveness of civil war and terror came, as it did to the rest of her country.  As a refugee, her journey took her from Somalia to Djibouti to Italy and finally to France, where she ultimately grew up with a foster family.  She and my son met when he was a college student spending the summer in Lyons, where she was working.  In the next decade, she married and had a son and divorced, and a few years ago they discovered one another again.

Now they find themselves in a world turned upside down by racial and ethnic and religious and cultural conflict — not that it hasn’t always been so, but the fears generated by certain political leaders ands groups in this country and in Europe and Africa exacerbate the natural challenges of creating a family in which so many different backgrounds and expectations and hopes present themselves. We are now a family of many colors; of England and Germany and Wales and Somalia; of Christianity and Islam; and of losses and stories untold.

May the tiny girl on her way be a source of joy who energizes the family into which she arrives.  And for her sake and for her generation’s, may we meet the challenges ahead with love and hope and laughter and a sense of boundless possibility.

 

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