Monday, August 01, 2005

Losing Space for Diversity


I was up to one of my favorite tricks this afternoon: bugging Dr. Dissentin' Beets Trotsky. I wanted him to tell the hospital staff to display the original flag of his homeland; not the dorky blue, white and red striped one, but the big red one with the yellow hammer and sickle in the corner. Suddenly, it occurred to me, I could ask the hospital to display MY nation's flag.



To make a long story long, The University of Michigan Health Systems, part of the campus that brought you winning and losing scores for your race, has decided to "celebrate diversity" by filling up the eastern escalator wells with flags. Lots of flags. And today we got e-mails requesting that, if the flags of our ancesters are not represented, we let the administration know so they could order them.

I have a lot of different ancestors from a lot of different places. They tended not to hang on to their family Bibles (if they had them) and they tended to wander a bit. One fought in the Union army during the civil war...and deserted, so people tended not to pass on much information about him. John Adams and John Quincy Adams are distant cousins, so they got a lot of airplay, but that didn't tell my sisters and brother and I alot about our heritage growing up. Supposedly, the Adcoxes in Tennessee had Scotsmen in the background and Irishmen, and some Germans. And the Normans from Iowa had French Canadians and English. But there was never much certainty about that.

But there are two more direct ancesters we know stories about and could actually point to from our history were from North Carolina and were Cherokee. A foremother of my dad defied tribal wisdom to marry an American Revolutionary soldier; my mother's great great grandmother declined Andrew Jackson's invitation to walk from North Carolina to Oklahoma (she wasn't into long hikes).

Believe it or not, apparently such a small amount of native American blood is necessary in some tribes to make one an "official" member of the tribe (in Ward Churchill's case, whining at a loud number of decibels sufficed). I never pursued it myself. My mom looked into it but there was some kind of road block....my grandfather didn't remember his ancestor's name, there are some people that should be on the rolls in Tennessee and North Carolina that aren't because they did hide, etc. Doesn't bug me. I certainly don't want to claim I "suffered" in any way as a minority, because I haven't. And I haven't done anything for the tribe, except buy a mug and a picture at the Visitor's Center, and talk up the play they show at the ampitheatre there (Unto These Hills--It is really good by the way)...and now, I've sent in info to have the hospital order a flag.

But now I've been thinkin'....what if everyone with an indigenous background on the hospital staff insists on, say, a Seven Nations flag, a Navajo flag, a Sioux flag...and what about the Bushmen of Africa? The Maori of New Zealand? The Aborigine tribes of Australia?

Do the 12 tribes of Israel have different flags?

Oh well. If I've unleashed a monster, maybe someone else will see what overkill all this "diversity" is.

...although that is a cool flag, kinda, isn't it?

8 comments :

Billy D said...

It is. My wife, is Comanche and Mohawk. I have a Mohawk flag, but nothing Comanche. I'm not even sure if there is one. It was very tough for my wife to trace her ancestory too. A lot of "I forgot's" and I'm not sure's" in there.

Billy D said...

BTW - You really should find out, and get registered. There are many. many benefits, especially financial. (i.e., free college for your kids and the like)

Kelly Norman said...

Well, I turn 43 on Sunday and nobody's proposed yet; so the possibility of kids doesn't exactly loom large. At any rate, the only reason I'd get registered is pride in the heritage. I'd bury my head in shame to use it for goodies I or my offspring had not earned. Especially since we never suffered the problems that the tribe did early on. I've never lived on a reservation, I've never suffered prejudice, and thanks to one of my forebears, I didn't have to grow up in Oklahoma. (not that there's anything wrong with that....)

I do have a propensity for gettin' real drunk on just a little likker though.

Difster said...

If you have relatives that fought in the Confederate Army, you could request a Confederate flag. :) That would get people riled up.

Kelly Norman said...

In a minute, I would do it. Nation of origin: CSA!

I was half serious when I told my friend he should get the USSR flag up there. Much more interesting than the other one. And as one of my posts today shows, it's not like there's much of a difference between Russia, at least, and the Soviet version of that "republic".

Billy D said...

I thought the kids in the pic were yours.
My wife is OK with everything but whiskey. Whiskey will immediately bring out the Indian, and everything goes to hell right there.

Kelly Norman said...

No, Billy, that's me (as Red Riding Hood) and my sister, Kathy, in 1966, when I was 4 and she was 2. We had a year-long argument about whether the Everly Brother's "Cathy's Clown" was speaking directly to her and her costume.

It's a good thing her ideas of reference had long passed by the time I took Abnormal Psych; it would have really freaked me out.

Kelly Norman said...

Update: I did order the flag! Immediately, it registered on the official site that the University was ordering it. So I will keep you posted.

Since I did disown the country after the Kelo v. New London decision, I've started to feel like this is kind of a good alternative. So Billy, maybe I'll look into your suggestion, although some indeginous nations are more socialist leaning than even the United---er, Loosely Coalesced States of the Northwestern Hemisphere.