The Amish Cook from Oasis Newsfeatures

Amish and African-Americans

First of all, these are only my personal observations.   But I thought Martin Luther King Jr. Day would be a good day to talk a little bit about the Amish view of racial issues, as I've seen them through the years.

Every year around this time I'll remind Lovina that there is no mail delivery because Martin Luther King Jr's birthday is being celebrated.  To which I always receive a vague - almost puzzled - reaction.  Keep in mind, though, that Amish communities are located in the most rural areas: generally Midwestern areas of the USA.   In the Midwest, African-American populations are greatest in the cities and there are many reasons for this.  In the South, however, there is a much higher African-American population in the rural areas.  So Amish settlements in the rural south (a small, but growing presence) tend to have more daily interactions with people of color and race relations have been harmonious.  A recent US census survey of Holmes County, Ohio - population total of over 40,000 people - showed the number of blacks living there to be less than 100.  So the Amish in northern and midwest areas just don't have a lot of day to day interaction with blacks.  Therefore, racial issues - at least as it comes to blacks - generally just don't come in to play much. 

A much different dynamic, though, is occuring when it comes to Hispanics and the Amish.  Hispanic population in small, rural midwestern communities is steadily and rapidly growing.  With farming in decline among the Amish this often means Hispanics and Amish are competing for the same jobs.  I have heard Amish people - who lacking resources, news access, etc - express fear of "Mexicans" (as they are often referred to), resentment over job issues, and the like.  Hispanics and Amish are a very different culturally.  Of course, disparate groups being wary of one another is something as old as humanity so I'm not surprised to see some of the same behavior in the Amish.  That said, I've never witnessed outright racist behavior by anyone Old Order Amish.  Putting aside some of the cultural and economic tension with Hispanics, I think most Amish have a live and let live attitude.  You do your thing, we'll do ours, and everyone will be happy.

MLK day

I believe that many states now have laws where the school systems are required to be off on MLK day.  The school system I work for has had this day off for several years.  I have notice that students today now know more about MLK than they did when I first started working 25 years ago.  My son who attends public college has the day off too.  So does my son who is in the military.  The son who attends a private college does not. 

No vacation for us...

Throughout my school years, kindergarten through college, school was never closed on MLK Jr. Day.  We literally have very few AA people in our area, but I always thought that this was supposed to be a holiday, like Presidents Day, that celebrated the work of this individual and not the color of his skin.  In college, it was overlooked and almost expected that none of the AA students would be in class that day.  I hate double standards.

Now, though, I believe that they all do have MLK Day off.  Not sure what has changed since I graduated almost 10 years ago to change their minds. 

hot topic/Amish and African Americans/Hispanics

What a hot topic. There is a LOT of tension over the influx of illegal Hispanics and the job market. As I write, my son is looking for a job and frustrated over the fact he, too, is competing for some of the same jobs. It wouldn't be such a problem if the economy and job market weren't such a mess. It is truly scary. My son has been laid off for almost 3 months and can't find anything. Bad time of year to boot. When we have no jobs for our citizens and then we have an influx of illegal aliens from anywhere we are going to have a variety of negative responses to deal with and those people and their culture are going to be rejected and criticized for some time. We jump on the hurting people of the world, but our problem is really greedy big businesses.