Sunday, July 12, 2020
Thursday, July 9, 2020
I would like to contribute to the effort of increasing our confidence in America as a country which respects diversity.
I 'd like to share my family story which relates to this topic because in spite of everybody thinking I am Russian (which is half true, as I am actually half Latvian), my extended family is a Soviet Jewish family that includes my mother-in-law Lucy (wich by jewish tradition makes my wife and my kids Jewish formally).
The reason for our emigration here was to escape from serious discrimination that my mother-in-law and her brother experienced ~25 years ago when they lived in Russia. The USA allowed them to emigrate with family members without needing to join some other relatives in USA or by some kind of working visa, but just as a protection from the discrimination they experienced in Russia!
Just a couple facts of the discriminations my relatives had:
My wife’s mother - Lucy - lived in Leningrad (today, the city is called St. Petersburg) and after graduating from high school with honors (with a silver medal award for having only As and Bs grades) was not allowed to enroll in most Russian universities she had dreamed of. After graduating from a secondary sort of college (where Jewish students were allowed to be) she was assigned to have a job in the deep north of Russia, where my wife grew up.
Lucy’s brother was a bright, talented civil engineer and manager at some factory, but when he hired a few other talented engineers to his team, he was fired with a scandal published in the newspaper because those engineers were also Jewish!
I can add more and more cases...
In the early 90’s I worked in Germany as a foreign researcher at some colleges and was advised to immigrate my family to Germany, but I noticed that Germany, a very civilized and democratic country, is a monoethnic nation. I like Germany very much and am always happy to visit or even to work there as a foreign temporary specialist, but not to live there as you have to be a ethnic German, otherwise it is very hard to be admitted as a non-secondary sort of person. Despite the fact that they welcomed Jewish people to immigrate and even expressed some apology for the Holocaust, my family was not sure that would be a good idea as some of my wife's relatives were killed brutally during WWII on occupied by fascist territory just because there were a Jewish.
In addition, I grew up in Uzbekistan and had some mandatory Army service in Estonia when those Republics were under the Soviet Union. I remember some hatred towards Russians (and me) from the Uzbekian and Estonian people. That was so wrong… I know how bad it is to belong to occupiers and see how minorities are discriminated against.
So now we are very happy that we emigrated to the US as here I and all my family feel equal and respected living among so many different communities and cultures. Throughout my career I have had a variety of managers that were in minority groups and I have learnt a lot of good things from them. I feel so happy being among diverse cultures and I enjoy observing them and being influenced by them. For example, I love black music (jazz or even classic Gershwin) and going to Blues Alley music cafe in Georgetown or visiting New Orleans is always pure joy. I like hispanic dancing and collect video recordings of them on my YT channel. My kids and grand kid go to schools (including a Jewish one) and colleges and are influenced by many different kids there from different communities.
Because of that our life is so rich and interesting here... but most important is the following:
In spite of seeing issues from time to time and tense relations between different group of people (even against us), the society in general (government, law system, company policy) are in most cases protecting us from any discrimination and encourage us to respect and not to discriminate people from any cultures and communities. Also, I know that in spite of my accent and some obvious cultural differences (as being “Russian”) everyone around me in Capital One is supportive and respectful and I do the same for everyone here too.
I believe in America. I believe we (as I am a part of America too) will overcome the current crisis and become even more supportive of Jewish, Black, Hispanic and other communities and cultures for being unique, valuable and at the same time equal and respected.