Many of you might be familiar with the novel Namesake, written by Jumpa Lahiri. The movie version of it was a big hit as well. It is the story of an immigrant from India. The story follows the classic line of many from India, who came to the US as graduate students, in the 70s and 80s, later stayed on in the US, for a job and career. Combine that with marriage, kids and the many trials and tribulations of the first generation immigrant, you have the complete story of Namesake! Many who are the first generation immigrants, can feel justifiably proud of his/her accomplishment in this life time. Jumpa Lahiri expresses well this pride of accomplishment of her parents, as narrated in her novel.
Now imagine the possibility of immigration inside the boundaries of America? This sounds quiet odd and not natural until you hear the words of Bill Russell, the famous NBA player, who won two NCAA Championships, eleven NBA championships for Boston Celtics and also became the first African-American coach in the NBA history. Bill Russell’s parents migrated from the segregated south to the more integrated West, to the state of California. Bill Russell calls this “not a migration, but immigration”. It was a journey to a different country, where we the blacks were accepted as equals and did not have to live as separate and unequal. My parents found every thing new and different. They had to find a whole new way of life and the necessary adjustments. This immigration one must admit must have been far harder than the journey of Jumpa Lahiri’s parents and any other immigrants like them.
Every immigrant family aspires to accomplish more in a given generation, but also works hard to get the next generation to higher places. This story is repeatedly told through all the pressure and the commitment put on their children to succeed, by the young Indian and Chinese parents, from the recent wave of immigrants. We begin to see this increasingly true in the recent wave of immigrants from other nationalities as well. But all of this would appear to be mere shades of progress, when Bill Russell explains the progress of his “immigrant” family. “My grandfather never spent a day in school, because he could not go to school under segregation. But, he built a school on his own, under great threats of harm to his life, so that my father could go to school. My father dropped out of school after the sixth grade. But he migrated to the West, so that I had the opportunity to go to a four-year college in the integrated school system. My daughter recently graduated from the Harvard Law School”. The pride of progress was clearly visible as Bill Russell explained this to the TV audience. You can see Bill Russell and hear his words at the link: http://thelastword.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/10/19/5317705-nba-star-bill-russell-on-leaving-the-south