Multiculturalism and This Immigrant

Apologies for taking so long to post something, but it’s been a busy couple of months.

In August I returned to filmmaking, my first love, and was fortunate enough to put together an amazing team of people to shoot most of a short film over the last weekend of the month. And, while the film kept me from posting here, it also opened my eyes to something that’s crept up on me almost unnoticed over the last five years. And ultimately it inspired me to write this post. As an immigrant (albeit a garden-variety privileged white guy American one) I’ve become pretty well inured to the concept of multicultural living.

On the second day of my film shoot, I, and a number of the cast and crew commented on the scene before us. On that day in particular my cast and crew included a generous mix of folks from Asia, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Brazil, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Switzerland, and Ireland. And while that did seem pretty amazing, the part that struck me most was that it took all day for it to sink in. Living as I do in Dublin (a fairly multicultural place – at least by Irish standards), I simply didn’t notice, and, having gravitated over the course of five years to have friends with similar concerns and issues, most of my friends here are from, well, everywhere. That’s simply the reality of my life here and now. And I think life on set that day was simply a little distilled version of life in Dublin, at least for many immigrants.

But that, and the fact that I recently filled out the Irish citizenship paperwork, got me thinking about the ways that my world view has changed since I moved to Dublin.

First and foremost it has solidified something that started to take shape when I lived in Los Angeles. It no longer surprises me to see anybody of any race, creed, sex, or religion doing any job or living anywhere. I may take notice of the Burka-wearing Southern Baptist militant lesbian Trump supporter working at my bank, but then I’ll walk right up and ask to deposit my money. It simply doesn’t faze me anymore.

And secondly, when I’m not surrounded by that level of diversity I miss it. The cultural vacuum is palpable. Something’s not right.

Those two shifts in worldview are gifts for which I’m eternally grateful.

For me, whether it’s a result of being an immigrant, living in Dublin and not Indiana/Georgia/Florida/Ohio/Alabama, or simply getting older, multicultural living has become a bit like renting a Ferrari for the weekend. How can you possibly go back to driving a Renault?

 

Pax,
Glenn K.
Dublin, September 2016

About Glenn Kaufmann

I'm an American freelance writer, photographer, and web publisher. I specialize in writing about travel, food, arts, and culture. I also write dramatic scripts for stage and screen. I'm based in Ireland.
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8 Responses to Multiculturalism and This Immigrant

  1. Christine Ogan says:

    A lovely tribute to multiculturalism. Too bad it doesn’t happen like that for everyone. The world would be such a better place. Thank you Glenn

  2. Dan Price says:

    I think this is part of the problem in America today; and I think the internet contributes to it. America has been polarized for as long as I can remember, but the problem is clearly getting worse. With the internet, people get their news from wherever they want, and form “online communities” of their own liking. The result is a kind of positive feedback that feeds polarization. People often say things like “Everybody knows…” or “nobody wants…” and they are right. Everyone they know feels the same way they do, so the other side seems like just a small bunch of weirdoes that can not only be ignored, but who must be opposed in the most vigorous possible way.

    • I agree, Dan.

      The Internet can be a wonderful tool, but it also let’s me smolder in my own self-righteousness, and only have to deal with people who agree with me. And in the end, there’s nothing “wonderful” about that. I’m just a tool – in general – and, in the end, a I’ll become a tool for those people who exploit the growing divisions and attendant tribalism we’re seeing everywhere in the world.

      Keep on keepin’ on, my friend.

      I hope you’re still sailing.

      -GK

  3. I so hear what you’re saying. During my recent month in Essex where daughter Zoe was hospitalized, I was immersed in multiculturalism. Zoe’s surgeon was a brilliant black man and two of her doctors were Muslim women — not wearing burkas but complete with hijabs and long-sleeved, floor-length dresses. The nurses came from all over from the Caribbean to Africa to Asia and Europe. I loved them all. And now I’m back in oh-so-white-bread Oklahoma. I liked your car analogy but for me it’s more like chicken broth and a rich ragout.

  4. tim hicky says:

    I have been glancing through your comments about Ireland that encompass your observations about Irish society whilst living there. One of your complaints is what you perceive as racism within Irish society as a whole. There may be some other nationalities
    better placed to comment on this issue. America however is one of the most racist countries on the planet. America has a legal system where black offenders are three times more likely to be incarcerated than caucasians found guilty of the same crime. This may explain why the black population currently languishing in American penal institutions is larger than the whole population of African Americans was in America when slavery ended. Maybe black immigrants are sometimes treated curtly by officials on buses or in the banking system, but in America unarmed black people are murdered twice a week by the Police. The examples are simply astonishing by Irish standards, as many of these killings amount to nothing less than summary executions. For example Walter Scott in S Carolina was shot in a park by a police officer, having been stopped over a broken tail light. ( in view of the number of unarmed black people shot by the police, who can blame him for running for his life), Eric Garner was strangled in a chokehold by police and was effectively executed for the heinous crime of selling single cigarettes, Terence Crutchner was shot when he hands his hands in the air after his car broke down in Tulsa. The statistics are shocking, in 2015 over two unarmed people were killed by police every week in 2015, 37% of the unarmed people killed by police in 2015 were black (but only comprise some 13% of the population). Even the would be President, Hilary Clinton has publicly labelled American black youths as super predators. On balance, some black people in Ireland may not be treated with absolute curtesy by public transport ticket inspectors or bank clerks, but they are not shot dead in the street for minor infractions. There is no need in Ireland for a movement like Black Lives Matter, and the lesson would seem to be – of you are black and you want to remove the possibility of being murdered by a police officer, move to Ireland. Having a shortage of mixer taps and spicy sausage seems a small sacrifice for your life!

    • Wow Tim,

      You are absolutely the perfect embodiment of the blind racism in Ireland. Thank you for making my point for me.

      Did I ever compare Ireland unfavorably to America with regard to race. Did I ever say anything about America being perfect, or even close, with regard to race? No. Never. Not once.

      Ireland, my friend, is incredibly, mind blowingly racist. And the problem is people like you, who refuse to look at problems at home. Or worse, choose to ignore them by saying, “Well, we’re not as bad as elsewhere”. As if that excuses anything.

      I’ve actually heard a number of Irishmen like yourself say, “Oh, the Irish can’t be racist because we, ourselves, have been so put down and discriminated against. It’s not possible for us to be racist.”

      What utter crap.

      In that post which you clearly read with great care and insight, I was praising Ireland for its multiculturalism. That is to say, the diversity of people living here. That’s great. But I’d wager that many/most of those people from elsewhere could talk your ear off about the crap way they get treated here on a fairly regular basis.

      So, before you go off on another pointless, ungrounded tirade about America, maybe this post is more your speed:

      http://www.anamericanindublin.com/2012/03/07/feeling-other-racism-and-racial-profiling-in-ireland-and-elsewhere/

      Enjoy.

      GK

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