Leather Shoes from Belarus

In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Leather Shoes from Belarus
Leather Shoes from Belarus

Walking home from a tedious day at the shoe factory, Arcadiy Zeldin found himself in a situation that was miles, light years have you, worse than living in a time when anti-semitism was considered not just a norm, but a justified perspective. Turning the block, he found himself held at gunpoint by two men, who demanded an immediate payment of 10,000 rubles. Valuing life more than anything else, and also lacking such an exorbitant sum, my grandfather fearfully negotiated the payment down to 500 rubles and left alive. He couldn’t live like this, his wife and kids couldn’t live like this, and furthermore, there was no reason to. Coupled with the poverty-stricken conditions of Belarus, immigrating to the land of opportunity was the only path with a light at the end. Years later, after his first son made the first move by moving out to the U.S with his wife, following his steps was only reasonable. Spending the first year learning English at a local college, he worked ten hours a day for five days a week, and with the help of his family, did his best to make it happen. When asked about his memory of Belarus, he doesn’t respond with contempt, nor a hatred of the conditions of his former country of residence. Instead, he mentions how the freedom that the U.S offers is something he cherishes and proudly identifies as Belarusian American.

Place(s): Brooklyn, Belarus
Year: 1993

– Ronald

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant