The Ethiopian Middle Class In America

(San Jose, California)

This view is focusing to analyze the content and the character of the middle class Ethiopian (Eritrean) in the Diaspora. This class is a well- to- do class (individuals and families), made its fortune through education or hard working or by following other means, such as- culture of cutthroat market mentality.

Life in the Diaspora permitted significant number of Ethiopians /Eritreans to transcend themselves to the upper class or otherwise they couldn't made it, if it was back home might be possible only through the culture of corruption. In the last many decades, many Ethiopian refugees established own business sectors in different states and cities. There are also, those who do not own businesses –but- well settled in the academic world, who aligned themselves well with the well doing middle class Americans. The later segment (educated class) too is getting piece of the pie, what the white Americans call it "The American Dream" (happier life)- owning the fancy cars, lavish frequent vacations and mortgages.

Many other refugees and Ethiopians, entered a new world, new country to escape from the economic and political injustice in their respective countries. A large number of people who immigrated to the west mainly to the USA had the ambition to success theirs and their family's life by working hard. Of These refugees first few years arrival to this country, their aging poor parents living back home blessed these refugees for helping them with food, clothing and housing. I recall the first few years we arrived in this country each of us helping, informing, inviting, sharing and solving problems, helping work resumes, and providing transportation and psychological support. It was an extraordinary exciting moment! The love, The humanity, the warmest sympathy and the support each of us reflected towards each other was similar even here in the USA exactly what we show respect to each when we lived in the those darkest and notorious shelters of Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, and any of the likes countries living as a refugees.

When time goes by, a vast number of them became selfish and detached themselves from friends and families and unable and unwilling to help others. Many became material lovers. They began to peruse the unreachable American happiness, they became charitable not to families and friends but to the material market. Easily became a pry to the manipulative language of a consumer product (treachery, blurry, ugly and mean). After assimilating and adjusting well with the system, some became wealthy with the absence of any attachment the internal happiness. Their rational thinking became rusty. Many of them, divided into the haves and the have-nots. (Middle class, poor, the very poor..)

Many have written in the past (including my self) how our people is friendly and brotherly/sisterly to each other, organized in different institutions (Church, Mosque, musical clubs…) and in community organization supporting each other. That may be the case then- but, at this moment of time, it is structured for cosmetic reasons without a quality meaning. Currently one can see easily how divided these communities are by wealth, politics, race and religion. Leaving the community institutions aside for now, let us see the middle class Ethiopians character.

Our people have drastically moving away from the authentic Ethiopiaweenet character to the culture of American consumerism. We have witnessed daily, the behavior of the middle class Ethiopians in America slipping closer into be the victim of the market morality of the west- which lacks the humanly judgment-what is best known as CUTTHROAT MARKET MORALITY (both as business owner or a consumer). As consumers, they are made into the- believe- they will be happy- if- they own house, luxury cars, and consuming extravagantly (shop until you drop dead!) . Searching happiness through possession of wealth. (house, jewelry, fancy cars..), happiness through academy, or better job, or through throwing a lavish wedding or birthday party. The corporate market institutions have greatly distorted them through different means of manipulating consumer languages in search of happiness as it did to the many Americans.

These segments are taught wrongly when interpreting happiness. Happiness as many critical thinkers believe comes from a mental attitude. It is an elementary knowledge, that every human being is aware that "Life" is a series problem. If you are to be happy at all, you must be happy. It can't be contingent upon solving some external problem. When one problem is solved another appears to take its place. Happiness comes from the inside soul not from material possession. (That doesn't mean human being wins the inner soul always regardless how one is patience and strong- it is foolish to expect life without challenging heavy day even heavier months and years- I am not that naïve to ignore such, while I myself passing "Mano A Mano" (Hand to Hand) through it everyday struggle to survive, but it is naïve to believe wealth alone can bring happiness is what I am trying to address). To put it clearly "The return from your work must be the satisfaction which that work brings you and the world's need of that work. With this, life is heaven, or as near heaven as you can get……. " Du Bois

I am strictly taking the particular "happiness" of this time, that we see many Ethiopians worship - a lavish party- as a Gospel. Our people in the Diaspora, particularly these middle class Ethiopians, the so-called Eritreans as well, are seen getting desperate for a lavish comfort and convenience. Spending lavishly for "wedding, birth day party, graduation ceremony…." to get attention from their friends and communities is one of the habits being exhibited all the time. I have no problem for a reasonable expenditure to be happy, I am not talking about those who are keeping their order together and enjoy life in the humanly order spending small/reasonable amount to get great pleasure or (take the right amount for the right object). I am talking the prodigal segments (lack of other choice of ward).

I am trying to point you out- the growing of joyful givers and the lavish party explorers, the culture of show-up (flashy life) ignoring the life of the poor and the very poor fellow families aside is growing drastically. This attitude is not of course something we acquired it entirely in the Diaspora- it is been with us in our culture during the feudal era. But, it is reaching its mean and ugly stage at this time in the Diaspora.

Many middle class/even the poor class Ethiopian (by putting themselves into a credit debt) are increasingly attracted into "the habit of wealthy Americanism" by throwing a lavish party, renting large expensive studious with a musical band for their newly born baptized baby celebration ( TIMKET-), baby shower, uncle day- party, boy friend day- party, birthday party…. Imagine!! Some of these lavish individuals, if not each of them have a poor family back home in Ethiopia/Eritrea who desperately need, food, shelter, clothing and a moral support. But are obsessed of a physical pleasure and for a reason of "fame" (to be called –kEBRARAW) - doing it- for special attention to aligned themselves with American wealthiest class, foolishly calling themselves "the haves"! (KEBRARARW- the feudal name for the lavish and proud man and a good man or highest men).

Who is proud or good man or highest man? These segments are not a proud people. They are naturally spook, divorced from the ordinary merit of spiritual order. They are not good in the highest degree. Truly good man must be good in the highest degree without leaving aside the life of the family back home or the life of the poor where they live. It is not possible for the highest or good proud man to flee from danger- from the danger his/her nation or from poor family confronting in a daily bases. That is why I call them "Spook!'. These are not an example of good men. This class, by engaging itself into the habit of "consuming lavish" –the rest of the community (individuals or families) is fed or otherwise dragged into a negative attitude (-divorce, jealous, backstabbing, communal fragmentation, and debt).

There are also other middle class groups apart from the above business entrepreneurs. This class is group of individuals who see their life through the academic world. Their belief is "one's academic career is secured my world is secured". This class too is part of the above middle class who lavishly party and extremely swelled with academic ego. Mythically intoxicated with a wine of "my world is secured ". The image of this class is a discouraging one. This class is worst than the feudal middle class in Ethiopia that we had in our past history. This class has two columns. The first segment of this branch is "exact and more capable" of teaching others. It show respect to the disfranchised class- aligned itself more closer to the poor- to learn more difficult things that are not taught in his/her universities or other higher institutions. These are proud men, good men, and highest men. They wisely widened their education by giving and taking.

The second column is - those with any academic degree, naively and radically departed from the conscious mind. You will find them deceiving the true concept of academic knowledge. They tend to change the authentic nature of education by creating false image and teach society the slogan –"education for stomach, education for power and despotism"- (Education for physical pleasure, fame, comfort, and power). You will also see the "naivety" of this class brightly highlighted its own ignorance -"undermining" the illiterate and the poor segments of society by looking down at it. You can see also few of this class in the Internet chat medias suffocating readers with grammatical jargons (what you always reading me calling them "The Grammarians") to silence and marginalize the decent uneducated citizen's voices when challenged (an intimidating strategy of escape to cover up their incompetence). You might also observe this segment in other social interactions that their feudal mentality looking for a special status above the norm demanding their "some-body ness-" owing to their making it in the "Academic America or in Europe".

For the poor, and very poor brothers /sisters mental spirit- this class is the most brutal segment you can find. It undermine society, it undermines a disfranchised segments of a given society degrading for not taking self-initiation and advantage of the present school system or job opportunity (echoing the racist propaganda in this continent or the same as they use to echoing similar believe during the feudal Ethiopia in the past). They have a little to sustain as educated segments when it comes to a rational thinking. They believe the academic world serves equal to everyone and life treats everyone equal in America. They bought themselves into the "myth" of "courage",- while-, blaming the poor and the very poor rest for not serious to go to the academic world. They aligned themselves with the thinking and ideology of the Black conservative in America or the same as in the old feudal Ethiopia some character of the society use to boast of their achievement as the American weight lost commercial says, "if I can make it you can make it!!!"- giving a blind eye to the existing situation of the system "chocolate cities and vanilla suburbs" (the musical artist George Clinton's phrase). Let us not bought into the lavish consuming morality and into "I am some-bodiness" morality while our brothers/sisters/families and relatives are looking for help here and back home from outsiders.


Anonymous said...

Waw, This is very touchy !! I hope it will reach every one. Thank you for wakeing as up !!

Anonymous said...

Ato Eyasu I have read the original article written by ato Getachew Redda as Commentary on Ethiomedia on Novemeber16 2004. So I don't think it is a good start. When you post such kind of article you have to give credit to the original author.