Monday, April 20, 2015

Who says that genocide defines Armenians?

Who says that genocide defines Armenians? (See New York Times, Sunday Review, April 19, 2015)

And who lets genocide define them anyway?

Many of us Armenians in the 1950's through to the mid 1960's, both young and old, were "Yankee wannabes", intent on being accepted by the majority culture, wanting to leave the world of being "foreign", speaking with accents, speaking anything but English (God foribid it should be Turkish) -- wanting to leave that world behind us.

It wasn't until Black became Beautiful that Being Armenian became Beautiful -- and granted, only for some.  But there were still those of us who had to lighten our hair, straighten our noses, and  . . . God forbid any Armenian man should sport a beard! Oh, and let's not forget changing our names from such names as Hatzakordzian to Baker or Chamourjian to Mud! 

Love "Turkish" music?  Better not!  Dance "Turkish" style?  God forbid!  Hey, wait a minute.  That was our culture, and our music.  We from Eastern Anatolia, from Marash, Harput, Zeitoun, Aintep -- we loved our culture, our music, our language -- the preachers in our churches spoke Armenian, English, and Turkish, our hymnals were written in Armenian, English, and Turkish (Armenian writing) . . . BUT when our parents and grandparents tried to tell their stories of survival . . . yes, survival from a genocide planned by the Turkish government against its Armenian population . .  they  (our parents and grandparents, not the Turks) were told, mortzir, unut, forget it!

Marash Girl learned of this in the late 1960's, early 1970's, when she initiated an oral history project under the auspices of what was then the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts.  She with a group of young Armenian men and women, set out to record the stories of the survivors -- those Armenians who had been lucky enough to leave their homeland alive . . . who had been lucky enough to survive the genocide -- who had been lucky enough to come to the United States -- folks who had never told their stories.  Why?  Because (1) they didn't want to cause suffering to their children or (2) (and this was the more common reason) because they wanted to tell their stories, but they were told to forget about it  -- you're in the United States -- we don't want to hear it -- told this by the younger generation who were intent on becoming American -- if not full-blooded, at least full-spirited -- Americans with no past, with a clean slate, with no dark history to deal with. (Yes, Marash Girl knows she should never end a sentence with a preposition, but what the heck!)

Oh, and just in case someone wants label to Marash Girl a Patriot, let her herewith wish you all a Happy Patriot's Day on Marathon Monday in Boston, Massachusetts!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Happy Patriots' Day to all! As recently opined, Patriots' Day needs to become a national holiday in the U.S.