I was ready to move ahead with the next ‘DNA’ post about my much admired Norwegian cousins—the post with pictures of them and small stories of how happy I am to be connected to the Nesets of Norway. And then I started thinking of how politically and personally awkward it feels to brag about my ancestry, which is ‘white people’ ancestry, at this time of rampant US racism, xenophobia, and white nationalism. One writer has labeled what’s wrong with this country (at least the Trumpian segment of it) by describing our White Extinction Anxiety (Charles Blow/NYT/July 24). So I thought I’d talk about color before launching into a couple of months of reveling in the country of Norway and being Norwegian.
At the risk of appearing naive or Pollyannaish (google it!), here’s my statement about the glories of diversity and the fascinating whys and wherefores embedded in each and every culture/ethnicity/race.
I am very nearly full-blooded Scandinavian and very proud of that fact—as I state ad nauseam on my blog. My regard stems from Norway’s magnificent geography (mountains trees fiords oceans glaciers…what’s not to admire); from those daring and dangerous Viking seafarers; from the hardiness of Norwegians both at home in hard times and braving long voyages to a new world; and the democratic socialism upon which Scandinavian governments are based. Good reasons all for my enthusiastic declarations of being Norwegian—none of which have anything to do with being a white person.
In fact, that occasional posed family photo is looking a little more interesting as time goes on. When, a number of years ago, my son Scott called from Guam to announce that he and his Filipina girlfriend Sandra, were going to be married, my whole family was overjoyed—both because Sandra was intelligent, engaging, and a good human being and because she brought brand new culture/ethnicity/race into the family fold. Filipinos are typically a blend of East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean…) and Polynesian. Talk about an inventive and adventurous mix! Now, with great pleasure and excitement. we are welcoming a new family member of Middle Eastern and Chinese heritage and, hopefully, over the years Nesets and Magalongs and Klotzbacks and Yang-Halseys will grow to become a sort of familial-United Nations. Incorporating all the lovely shades of black, brown and white that exist.
To me the most exciting aspect of such cultural commingling is the wealth of histories and geographies, arts and cultures that emerge. What better way to experience the world and to be at home in whatever global village you find yourself?
So here’s to celebrating each and all of our ancestral cultures and to knowing our histories. To having cultural fun by reading books, seeing ‘foreign’ films and attending local ethnic festivals and celebrations…to connecting through family and friends and to traveling everywhere. And finally…here’s to not letting the current president of the US give the very fact of whiteness a bad name by demonizing all those ‘not like him.’ Thank the deities of reason that most white people aren’t like him either…and please let that be true.