Sometimes the news is just odd as opposed to frightening, aggravating or both. So it is with this piece of it.
The Afican nation of Kenya, a place of unparalleled beauty, colonial era diversity, amazing animal life, and almost matchless corruption, has extended an invitation to America’s black people. It an invitation to “come home.” The pitch speaks to living the feeling of not having anyone look at you because everyone on the street already looks like you.
Ghana on the 400th anniversary of slave ships landing in the new world created a year of return. Some 126 new citizens were minted. Two years ago the NY Post did a feature on Black Americans moving or planing to move to various African nations. Most are still in the grand adventure mode. As one woman said, “To see everyone on the sidewalk, all the models on billboards, all government officials look like me…”
This feeling is real. Something that veteran Jewish visitors to Israel tell “newbies” is this. When you first get there and are talking on the street about let’s say anti-Semitism you will instinctively lower your voice. After a few days that no longer happens. Not only do most of the people on the street not understand what you’re saying because they speak Hebrew, most of the people don’t care what you’re saying because it isn’t an Israeli problem. A feeling quickly grows that you’re there with the family.
This is not entirely true in either case. Americans stick out and not just by language–dress, culture, and a score of other noticeable things. It doesn’t matter what color you are, everyone around you knows you’re not Israeli nor are you Kenyan. Other awareness is this. Yes for the most part everyone is glad you are there although some grind their teeth at the subsidies given to get you there and the tax monies spent to assimilate you. No one runs up to you on the street, embraces you, and tells you how glad they are you’re here. Be that as it may, to settle into a society that has a major component of your life as their life, is a feeling it takes some getting used to. It is a good feeling.
To stick with the Jews, Israel is not the only place that wants back Jews. A few years ago the King of Morocco re-extended his invitation to Moroccan Jews who fled Morocco to return “home” meaning of course Morocco. There were all kinds of enticements and promises. Syria tried that gambit once upon a time. Almost every country, I believe even Poland, has tried to get its Jews back from America. Even though Jews are… well Jews, with mostly ugly histories in the invitee countries, Jews a good producers. They are a solid middle class and they mostly behave themselves. When Nicaragua expelled its Jews, in a few years the economy crashed and with it came a wave of political and on-the-street anti-Semitism. Most of the Jews fled. The government tried desperately to bring them back. It was a “no go.”
But Kenya is determined. They have set aside 1,500 square miles for the building of American-like communities for American blacks. Now it isn’t a totally ridiculous idea. During the ’60’s, the Black Power Movement, and rise of the Nation of Islam, some blacks went from wearing African-style clothing to actually moving to various African nations. Some are still there.
But I wonder the reaction of teenagers when they look for basketball courts or realize no one cares about any sport accept soccer. How are young moms going to deal with learning what to feed their family and how to get them to eat it. Fashion is European–or native. People drive like maniacs. Red lights are a challenge not an command. In some places street sanitation is worse that it was/is in the darkest neighborhoods of the deep south. Lions, Tigers, and Elephants are cool–in zoos. Not so much when you run into them on that. outlier 1500 acre set-aside.
The bottom line here seems to be this for the average Jews and Blacks. Stay home. Dance with the devil you know. A colleague of mine told me of her extreme unhappiness and determination to move to France. To my surprise, I saw her a year later at a conference. She said, “I didn’t go. I realized when I packed up, I was packing up my troubles too, and would be taking them with me.” So, impossible though it seems at times, work on changing the system you know rather than go to a system that is going to try and change you–at least from my perspective.
Thoughts this week from Bill Gralnick are somewhat afield from his norm. They are sparked to the massive discontent finally being shown by America’s African-Americans. ‘worth thinking about. A little update, based on his book, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn (Amazon.com kindle or paperback), he has been invited to be a columnist for he venerable Brooklyn Eagle. For reasons he’s not entirely sure of he has also been asked to write for the hometown news outlets in Coral Springs and Parkland, Florida. Hip-hip-hooray.
Bill’s musings can be found on his web-site: http://www.williamgralnickauthor.com
And he says, “Read! It’s good for both of us!”