Journey of an Ethnic Orphan:
Over the past 100 years my family has come from many places of origin Lebanon, Spain, Ireland, Russia, Germany and many others. over the past century there’s been a breakdown and separation amongst the family and its traditions that we used to have. There’s so much left to my imagination regarding my culture and ethnicity, but there is some that I am aware of from questioning people such as my mother, father, grandmother and other extended family members. Being an ethnic orphan is basically saying that whatever traditions and sense of culture we may have had in the past is very vague for the most part because of assimilation and geographical relocation. Although much is left to the imagination there are some things that I am aware of about my family’s culture and much that has been created for the purpose of keeping our family together. The issues concerning culture and ethnicity that will be discussed are: 1. Why there has been a breakdown of culture.
2. Religion and its place in the family.
3. Importance of family.
4. Values based on life experience.
5. Special problems that have contributed to the breakdown of family. Why there has been a breakdown of culture.
When my ancestors first came to America it was for the main purpose of establishing a better life, looking for the necessary alterations to create the best possible chances for success. With this idea for change, it was discovered the best successes were to come by fitting in as best as possible with the American people. When my great, great grandfather Amir Abu-Hamra came to this country he was of mixed backgrounds; Lebanese, Irish and Spanish. It was assumed that if he wanted the best opportunities for success he needed to change his identity to fit in. This metamorphosis started with his last name Abu-Hamra. With its foreign sound and origin it was best felt to Americanize it. In dropping the Abu and adding an H to the end of Hamra, it sounded more Irish. To his own dismay my great great grandfather was not aware that in America the Irish were just as discriminated against for being Irish as Lebanese were discriminated against for looking different. The only result in the name change was acceptance by one culture and not another. This first and most outwardly prominent change first constructed the gap between who he was growing up and who he was as an American. Another unfortunate consequence of his new life was the beginning of an era filled with unknown family history, lacking in the once abundant memories of tradition and culture. Sadly, It has been very hard finding any information which dates further back than him. So many senses of tradition, culture, and family history were lost as he left one life behind and began a new one as an almost completely different man. Another major gap in the breakdown of my culture was when my grandfather and grandmother decided to move to California. They left behind any sense of culture restarted for our family in America by Amir. One that was once held on by the strong ethnic roots of the newly developed lifestyles for my family in the East Coast. Another change adding to the already depleted sense of culture, once rooted in Amir’s humble beginnings and lost and unknown by his children and grandchildren. Religion and its place
in the family.
For generations my Mother’s side of the family were raised Catholic, my father’s side raised Methodist. When my Parents decided what religion my brother and I were to be raised, it was agreed by both to raise us Methodist. The decision was based upon the fact that Catholics do not believe in divorce. My father was married once before my mother and divorced, this was frowned upon in the Catholic community. Much like Amir Hamrah, my parents wanted the best life for my brother and I. Much of my religion consisted of the tradition of going to church every Sunday and on holidays. Nothing more and nothing less. When I turned...
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