Last weekend I went to a friend’s son’s wedding and was bowled over by the diversity. The bride was from another country, and the vows were repeated in her language. The groom’s best friend and former roommate gave an emotional toast about helping one another through thick and thin. When the two men hugged it was a contrast of completely different skin colors.
The groom is one of the few truly-color-blind people I know. He grew up with black and Puerto Rican friends, he works alongside people of color in New York City.
His wedding reception was on the grounds of a gun club in upstate New York. He got the place because his relative, an excavator, is a member. Looking around the wedding, with the shooting range and deer-hanging rack and a magnificent stand of walnuts in the distance, I saw more people of color than I’ve seen at any party I’ve been to in elite settings in New York.
I know the groom because I’m close friends with his father, a contractor, and this is not his first child to marry across traditional lines. The American middle class may be small, but I sense that it’s diverse. There are a lot of groups rising and falling within it, everyone holding on by their nails. That’s the mix I saw at the wedding, including an interracial couple or two.
No one talked religion that day. My friend was raised Catholic but left the church a long time ago. When we pass a crucifix driving, he shouts that they oughta get a coat on the poor guy. There were no religious references in his son’s vows. The guy who officiated wore an open shirt. There were several Jews at the reception.
My friend is special; he’s a freethinker. But this is postracial America, the America that young idealistic people are building. (And yes, it makes the Zionist impulse in American Jewish life, the need to separate ourselves so as to insure our safety, seem more out of date than ever.)