What A Modern Family Looks Like

Our family’s heritage is richer because we are a veritable rainbow, with varying hues of skin tones and ideals.

If you talk about Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Vietnamese, Palestinians, Muslims, atheists, single moms, LGBTQ, or childless/childfree persons, then you would be talking about someone in my family; and I’ll ask you to speak respectfully.

One’s heritage should be a source of pride. Coming from an Irish and French background, my pride radiates when I speak of how my family has diversified over the years.

I was 14 when a baby girl was born to my brother and his Vietnamese wife. The first time I held her, I marveled at her beautiful dark eyes. Today, I marvel at the strong, smart woman she has become.

My Palestinian nephew was my son’s fourth birthday gift—a brand new cousin! Now young adults, these two men share a birthday, gentle character, and a family who loves them.

Years ago, I brought my Mexican-American niece to the Mexican Fine Arts museum in Pilsen (a Hispanic neighborhood of Chicago), and she marveled, “I’ve never seen so many people that look like me all in one place.” Raised by her single Anglo mom (my sister), she’d never been exposed to her biological dad or his culture.

As my family’s gene pool diversified, our knowledge of the world enlarged. We know and respect the “no pork” tenet of my Muslim brother-in-law. We know that a neighborhood exists in Chicago’s Uptown, called “Little Vietnam,” that touts Vietnamese cuisine. Also, we do not engage in homophobic speech or behaviors because we embrace a family member’s sexual orientation.

Our family’s heritage is richer because we are a veritable rainbow, with varying hues of skin tones and ideals.

“Prejudices are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education. They grow there firm as weeds among stones.” These words were spoken by Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre). If we could pluck out the weeds borne of prejudice, what would this world look like?

The youngest of five, every one of my siblings and I broke away from the small, homogeneous (white) town where we grew up. Traveling to different parts of the country and the world, we found an open oyster, with pearls of wisdom for the taking.

Learning about people who are different than oneself is as easy as logging onto a new website where we exercise our sociological imagination by reading about different viewpoints and experiences.

In a world that is too often myopic and quick to judge, it is important to learn about and respect those around us—at home, work, and play. If you are lucky, what you learn will serve you when you make a new friend or welcome a new family member.

In the meantime, please don’t assume that I want to hear a joke that starts with, “An atheist walks into a bar…” And please don’t use the word “fag” around me or speak of those who adhere to the Muslim faith as “Terrorists.” If you do, I’m going to educate you in an attempt to eradicate the weeds from the garden of assumptions you live in.

Aspiring first-time author, Holmes has experienced motherhood, divorce, single motherhood, re-marriage, stepfamily, low income, middle income. Her coming book is based on solid research, vast interviews, and personal experience. Her inspiration: her teenage daughter; and all females who struggle with assumptions others hold about their lives.

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