Cry of ‘Abba, Father’ to an ever-loving Dad
LOS ANGELES — A visitor to California’s city of angels is likely to get the feeling that every other person he meets is a Mexican and that Spanish is on its way to outtalking English in these parts.
Of this city’s 9,818,605 population in 2010, Hispanics or Latinos comprised 47.7 percent, even bigger than the 27.8 percent who identify themselves as “White but not Hispanic.”
Mexicans were 63 percent, the biggest slice, of the Hispanic population. (Watch out, Hispanics are projected by 2050 to comprise 30.2 percent of the total population of the United States.)
Asians, who include Filipinos, came in as the third biggest ethnic group in California at 13.7 percent.
* * *
WHAT IS WHITE?: The “White but not Hispanic” description is an accident of law and history.
As a result of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed after the American-Mexican war, Mexicans in the newly conquered US territory of the Southwest were granted US citizenship.
Since legal citizenship at the time required “white” racial status, the new Mexican Americans had to be classified as white, whether or not they were really “white” (and English-speaking).
However, while Mexican Americans were white by law, they were – like Blacks then — not treated as such socially, politically and economically.
In the early 1900s, although no law decreed it, many of them had to suffer the indignity of going to segregated schools, being barred from restaurants, cinemas, public toilets and swimming pools. They could not live in white neighborhoods.
Although there are still vestiges of discrimination – such as receiving lower wages for the same work as white whites – Mexicans now have been winning equal treatment under the law and outside.
* * *
SKIN DEEP: Now the Census Bureau keeps adding to the classifications and subgroups of the population. This is a departure from the time before 1850 when the only racial categories were White and Black.
To a number of those of Spanish extraction, “white” was a proper description. But many others whose skin was far from white and whose culture was not Anglo-Saxon, it was a classification conferred only by law and convenience.
To many who had moved up from south of the border, the legalities attached to color or ancestry did not matter much as long as they found a good job and a chance to join kith and kin.
Not counting their undocumented compatriots who keep quiet about their illegal status, Hispanics or Latinos now make up 16.3 percent of the US population.
* * *
TONGUE TAKES ROOT: Their language, Spanish, is spreading faster than the rate of migration and assimilation of Spanish-speaking immigrants.
One arriving at the Tom Bradley International Terminal here hears mostly Spanish, from the wheelchair pushers to blue collar workers to their supervisors.
Signs in Spanish so dominate the airport that a visitor could think he had landed in Madrid.
This phenomenon of the Spanish language spreading its roots in what was originally Mexican ancestral land is something to watch.
It has even affected nursing training in the Philippines. Many Filipino nurses now take Spanish lessons since proficiency in that widely spoken language improves their chances of being employed in the US.
* * *
DAD’S DAY: On the shuttle from the airport I spotted a sign about next Sunday being Father’s Day (here and in many other countries, including the Philippines).
We have taken after American marketing gurus and, copycats that we are, marked the same third Sunday of June as the day for all fathers.
It is also the day in Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and in many other countries. But in Spain, El Día del Padre, is observed on March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph, Jesus’ foster father.
In Thailand, which is not Catholic, Father’s Day is marked on the birthday of the king. The natal day of the reigning monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), is Dec. 5.
In Taiwan, Father’s Day is observed on Aug. 8, the eighth day of the eighth month. In Mandarin, the number 8 is pronounced as bā, which means “papa” or father. So Taiwanese call Aug. 8 as “Bābā Holiday.”
* * *
ABBA, FATHER!: It is amazing that while Taiwanese say “Bābā” in alliterative reference to a father, Pope Benedict XVI entreats us to call out “Abba, Father!”
In a catechese on prayer days ago, the Pope talked about how growing up without a dad affects one’s concept of God.
He noted that people these days might have difficulty understanding the fatherhood of God, because of the “prevalent problem in our culture of a lack of fathers in children’s lives.”
“Christianity is not a religion of fear but of trust, and of love for the Father who loves us,” the Pontiff said, in explaining this term for addressing God.
* * *
FATHER FIGURE: The Pontiff continued: “Perhaps men today do not perceive the beauty, the grandeur and the profound consolation contained in the word ‘father’ by which we may address God in prayer, because the father figure today is often not sufficiently present.
“A father’s absence, i.e. the problem of a father who is not present in the child’s life, is a great problem of our time; and therefore, it becomes difficult to understand the profound significance of what it means to say that God is a Father to us.
“We can learn from Jesus Himself, and from His filial relationship with God, what being a ‘father’ truly means, and the true nature of the Father who is in heaven.
“In the Gospel, Christ shows us who a father is and what a true father is like, so that we may sense what true fatherhood is, and also learn true fatherhood.”