Monday, February 02, 2009

American Family

It's so heartening to know that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue houses a family of regular, down to earth people. The Washington Post's vignette of the extended first family is one a lot of us can recognize: hardworking folk who hold on to each other, supporting and protecting their own, only wanting what's best for the children.

It is the story of my own immigrant clan, the Sorianos, which has in the last half century, reunited mother, father, sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces, struggled and achieved the American dream, birthed a new generation, and along the way embraced Heltons, Dilays, Pascuals, Beddingfields, Douglases, Babiczes, Engs and Youngs as well as a phalanx of trusted friends and old compatriots. Like Marian Robinson, Maria Luz - nanay, mother, lola, mamaw, grandma - travels across the country to watch over grandchildren and great grandchildren, at 89 years old. It is the story of African, Asian, Eastern European, Latino and Middle Eastern families that have sacrificed much to give their children all they can muster.

The Robinson-Obama family story is also that of two women who regularly take their daughter to visit two sets of grandparents, dozens of aunts and uncles and countless cousins who remain in a working class community up North. It is the story of lesbians and gays who form extended families of their own as blood relatives are unable to accept another kind of family. It is the story of single moms, strong grandmothers and selfless neighbors who circle around their young and bravely provide day in and day out.

It is the story of family. One many of us share and many others still hope to tell one day. The pregnant teenager who chose to keep her child, the battered woman finally free with children in tow, the refugee lost in abundance, the gay young man who crossed into our borders hoping for acceptance and a family of his own.

Indeed, the family is society's bedrock. And family comes in many forms.

Image from ACLU.

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