Where are you “Polonia”?

For several weeks now, we have had a discussion here on the role of the Polish-American Congress and other Polish American organizations and the future of “Polonia.”

I do not want to repeat simple facts about the Polish-American lack of influence in political and social life, and burst the bubble of self-congratulation and self-importance that I see in many “Polonia” organizations. Instead of criticizing and arguing about what is bad and good, I would suggest a few simple activities that could take “Polonia” towards its dream of influence in American society.

First of all, we have to look around and identify positive activities in which many individual Polish-Americans are involved on a daily basis. This weekly is one positive activity. Instead of criticizing and putting it down, we should support it through subscriptions, donations, editorials and content suggestions. Our “Polonia” organizations and their membership should automatically subscribe to Post Eagle. Nothing counts more in American publishing than the ability to sell a product on a massive scale. Nowy Dziennik should cooperate with this publication through professional, editorial, and content support. Its Board of Directors must come to grips with the reality of both Polish speaking, and English speaking “Polonia.”

Secondly, Polish-American organizations should inform “Polonia” about their activities through this publication and Nowy Dziennik on a consistent basis, creating an informed pool of potential supporters. Such organizations as the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, NJ, the Polish Slavic Center in Greenpoint, NY, or the Heritage Festival in NJ could substantially benefit from this initiative. The Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union should use its financial resources to support such organizations.

Thirdly, Polish-Americans do not live in a desolate place, but within American society, which has devoted substantial resources to support knowledge about Poland and its culture. For example, the Polish Collection at The New York Public Library has been in existence for over a century. American universities also have provided academic and research support for the study of Poland. Many American cultural institutions promote Polish culture through concerts, movie festivals, TV programs, etc. How many of these initiatives have been supported by Polish-American organizations, which seem to be frozen in time, with a web of ethnic institutes, libraries, and cultural centers that lack the financial and professional support needed for proper functioning?

It is time that “Polonia” rethink its role, and how it allocates its resources, if we want to fully realize the dream of influence in broader American society. The time of ethnic organizations and ethnic “ghettos” is over. It is time to reach out to mainstream American society, promoting all that we consider beneficial about our ethnic culture.

Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz
The Post Eagle
February 22, 2006
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