O.J. Simpson reminds my aunt and uncle of home.
After more than 40 years in India, they're here in the United States living the immigrant experience with their near-minimum wage jobs, exaltation and struggle. The Simpson verdict, the recent Louis Farrakhan-led Million Man March and John Singleton's film "Higher Learning"--images of black people consolidating under flamboyant leaders, massing political exemption and indignation, taking fierce umbrage to insult while heaping their own upon whites-- caused my aunt and uncle to shake their heads and remark: "It's just like India."
My uncle said that at his job, whites talked freely with blacks, but, at the same time, were afraid of them; he knew this not just from observation, but from the remarks they would make when no blacks were around. I noticed his disappointment as he said this--as if he hadn't believed until then that America was as communalist as India or its politics as absurd.
India is a divided country. The majority Hindus don't think of Muslims when they say "Indian." The two societies exist outside of each other. Mixing the two, as in the case of Indian-Pakistani cricket matches, is an assured riot (Indian Muslims are highly disenchanted and they often root for Pakistan). Hindus resent the government's concessions to the Muslims, such as the affirmative-action system which governs the workplace and college selection process. The courts have allowed Muslim men to have multiple wives and refuse divorces because they do so in accordance with Koranic law. Many ask why, because a minority group claims oppression, it can be exempt from the law governing everyone else.
A lot of people are warning about an upcoming two-nation "United" States. My uncle's resigned disappointment with the system makes me pay more attention to the people warning us that it is already here.