“Brady Bunch and Smokey Bear. Buildings reaching to the sky. Afro-sheen and apple pie. PTA and FBI!”
Well. According to Spinal Tap.
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of when my father landed in the United States of America. Sometimes it’s still strange for me to think about. But thanks to a not so slight revolution, Boston University, and opportunity…here we are. And here I am.
I never really wanted to think about how hard that must be, to leave your home country or family, or to arrive in a country where your nation may not be thought of in a good light. It would definitely cross my mind, especially as tensions grew when I was in high school and self titled open minded peers suddenly thought it was ok to call out degrading names to anyone who was Middle Eastern, or think it was ok to harm entire groups of people based on their ethnicity. I remember a waitress refusing to wait on my family when I was a child, because my dad had an accent. I remember being in a church once, and a woman took me aside and asked me if I felt comfortable having a parent who was “from a country we don’t like”. And I’ve had people say to me they “don’t like people from that area” in such a calm manner, as if they were just telling me that dairy doesn’t agree with them or something. It was nothing to them to brand an entire group of people. So, of course I was aware of prejudice and such.
Seeing some of this again while watching Argo last year was upsetting to me, partly because I personally become so disheartened when I see this happen…to anyone, really. Discrimination is discrimination, and we should look past political unrest or disagreeable leaders when we look at a culture and the individuals who comprise it.
After all, aren’t you glad you’ve had the opportunity to hear and see artwork, music, poetry (and more!) from other cultures and nations? Did you associate that song or book with someone in that culture that you didn’t like, or were you able to move past that?
There are so many great artistic ‘imports’, if you will, from other countries. One of my favorite stories of my father coming to America is when he heard the Beatles on the radio for the first time.
I know, right? It was a little late. But while American TV was popular in Iran when that side of my family were there (I’m assuming before the revolution, however), I’m taking a gander that John, Paul, George, and Ringo hadn’t splashed over in the Yellow Submarine. And though this wasn’t an import from Iran into America, the impact it made from England to America, and an Iranian American…was great.
And thus The Yellow Submarine will forever be engrained as part of my childhood. However, we as a planet have yet to learn from the Blue Meanies. Or so it seems.
What artistic import/export (Importers exporters? What is this, Seinfeld?) are you forever grateful for? Do you feel you can separate it from how the rest of the world views the country it came from? Did it help you to understand that culture? What about something from your own culture/family’s culture?
Even the Beatles were impacted by other music from India. Heck, what about the antique accordion my mom has from her Italian side of the family? Throw the Hungarian Rhapsody on that thing and you have yourself something beautiful. What am I saying, the instrument itself is a piece of art.