Book launch at OxfordYes, this is honest to my God!
After having lived in America for thirty years, this is my realization as an immigrant who came from a poor Third World family, with no English-speaking abilities, no money, no relatives in this country, and no real future. It was an unbelievably rudderless, nervous, and isolating life. Except for a very few people, nobody back there cared to know how my little family and I were doing here. But when we moved up from a class where they were comfortable to see us to a class they were not — through blood, sweat and tears, they became jealous to see our relatively good prosperity and prestige we achieved, in one short life.
Here in America, on the other hand, once an immigrant is always an immigrant: they are tolerated in a place like New York where we’ve lived most of the time. Tolerated, and taken for granted. This is of course with the exception of the open-minded friends, students and colleagues who have shown us their friendship and kind heart. We can’t thank them enough. But deep inside, America, in spite of its grandiose talk of diversity and globalization, is insular and resistant, especially for those of us who do not come with pedigree, or accept the Wal-Mart, MacDonald’s, Disney or Wall Street conformity.
For those of us who have lived the life of an activist, a “rabble rouser,” or as many of them call us, “trouble makers” — to reject individualistic wealth for equality, peace and justice, America is not a country that embraced us. It has done its best to keep us depressed and isolated all our lives. Our struggle to successfully move up from one class to another in one short life, through many sacrifices, without compromising honesty and integrity has no meaning to this America. New York Times did not care to know our life’s story. CNN didn’t want to know our immigrant life’s joys and sorrows. Or, for that matter, our “strange-sounding” names, lifestyles, food habits, or religious celebrations.
“Taken for Granted” would find its best example in the life of a new immigrant in America — the so-called Land of Diversity.
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York