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People of Russian heritage in this country are a forgotten minority. Other minority groups often complain about how unfair they have it or how they are not positively portrayed on television, such as described in Leonard Pitts' recent op-ed column, "Too few minority roles on TV."

I would guess that the number of movies and books that portray Russians as antagonists outnumber the unflattering portrayals of all other minorities. It is difficult to think of an entertainment event that portrays Russians as benevolent. There was a time that it seemed if not for the big bad Russians, there would have been nothing on TV or at the movies.

This, of course, is a direct result of the Cold War. I had to deal with the slander of "commie," "pinko," "red," "ruskie" and "better dead than red." This did not happen to some ancestor slave or concentration camp intern. It happened to me in the '60s, '70s, '80s and, on rarer occasions, even today. In their endeavor to shelter me, my parents told me to say I was not Russian. I was told to pick any other Slavic country for my heritage. Conceptualize having to renounce your lineage.

I am tired of hearing about the so-called oppressed minorities. I certainly believe in equal rights, but not the unfair advantages of affirmative action or an unproportional distribution of business loans that makes me responsible for the actions of people who came before me.

The bottom line is that all people have had their cross to bear. Retribution punishes the wrong people, causing ill feelings and perpetuating the problems of race and sex discrimination. I speak for many when I say that as a second-generation American, I am not responsible for slavery, race riots, unequal pay, Japanese internment camps, etc.

Anyone born here is an American, period. I believe that "hyphen-American" is our biggest problem. Imagine an America that just has Americans. Only then will our differences, problems and discriminations die. But despite all our problems, we are still the best nation on earth.


Town of Tonawanda

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