Maya in the New America

In the wake of President Obama’s reelection, I’ve spent a good amount of time reading about how he won, who voted for him, and what this means now and in the future. Whether or not we live in a Post-Racial America is subject to debate, but we obviously don’t live in a post-racist America and we certainly don’t live in a non-racial America. And this brings me back to Maya.

Maya is like the coalition of Americans that decided the outcome of this election. She is not one thing or another, but a combination of potentially competing and complementing interests. It’s funny that I suddenly realized thinking about this this morning that all of my descendents will never be purely Japanese. This was a big realization, but also one that I thought of as beautiful and exciting. I’m lucky to be married to a woman in Becky who has invested as much time in and values her Jewish heritage and I do my Japanese one. Because of this, Maya will not be Japanese nor Jewish–she will be both. And so will her children and onward.

At nearly two, she is already celebrating holidays and special events for both cultures. She hears songs in Yiddish and Japanese. Her exposure to both cultures is natural and engrained in everyday life: in her food, in her clothes, and in the stories we tell her. This is a good thing. Our world has become too small to hide behind a single culture. Our choices have become so vast that we really do need to bring up our children to be able to see farther and wider than we did and do, to value that opportunity, and win in life riding on the best that world has to offer.

Dating Becky meant learning a lot. Marrying me meant Becky learned a lot. Having Maya means we have to bring all this stuff together. This process has created a space, a place that doesn’t always feels “safe,” but it is the safest launching pad that Maya can have to go out into the world.

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