Obama: Paradigm of a New Era of Inter-ethnic Marriages

Our family has been ecstatic about the Obama election. All the talk of his parents’ marriage across ethnic lines suddenly struck me as a paradigm for what I have been observing happening this past few decades — both as a college teacher and in the exogamous outreach of my own family.

A friend interested in genealogies had traced my Kent roots back to the meeting of two young people who had obviously fallen in love and gotten married after their ships landed a decade after the arrival of the Mayflower in Plymouth. The Kents apparently migrated as far west as Palmyra, NY where my grandfather (later to become a distinguish scholar) was born as a farm boy.

Suddenly during my generation my family began to break with the pattern of Anglo American marriages to a sweep that now includes relatives with roots from every inhabited continent (Israel, but not yet the Far East). I started by teaching in womens colleges — Vassar, Barnard, Hunter — during the women’s revolution which opened the doors of my students to the professions, including my own in philosophy. My extended career at Brooklyn college where we built one of the leading philosophy departments on the East Coast coincided with the first opening up of CUNY to African American students. Ours were terrified at first because they had formerly been told that they were not “college material” and they happened by chance to hover around our department where our secretary, Frances Morton, was one of the few African Americans employed by the college. They caught on fast and since then I have had the rare privilege of teaching a wide range of students, including our first Latina Rhodes scholar, a pair who started an outstanding Latina law firm (thank g-d) moved to WAll St. from the World Trade Center the year before 9/11. My students have won just about every award and fellowship going and have proceeded on into the professions through our leading graduate and professional schools, as did Barack and Michelle.

If one looks at the stats of the last decade, one discovers a rapid expansion of Obama parent marriages. In our family it has been a real joy to meet at the weddings our in-law families from the wide roots mentioned above.

I think that the Obama election signals that the U.S. is at long last breaking away from our Anglo Saxon racisms and ethnic prejudices to engender a true global roots society. Hurray!

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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