Talking about ethnicity, what some people term as "race" these days is such a hot topic button. EVERYONE seems to be triggered in one way or another around the topic of ethnicities. Caucasian (white) people seem to be at the centre of most of these conversations with other POC tribes. That's not surprising given the daily Caucasious (that's a made up word) inappropriate behavior we see from some white men and women. Sometimes, I truly feel they go looking for trouble in certain circumstances, which I chalk up to two main triggers. They are either being triggered because they truly are racists or they are being triggered because on some level they feel attacked and are looking for a way have their voices heard. Because all of these people who engage in this behavior are not emotionally healthy, they do not know nor care about constructive ways to have discourse with people they may not agree with. For them, they would rather take the passive aggressive way out by inciting some sort of confrontation, ranging from verbal abuse to physical violence.
Anyone that knows me knows I am a die-hard New England Patriots fan. My love affair started with them in 2004 during my first year of college at the University of Tampa. I was an incoming freshman and all my college friends were from everywhere but Florida. There were a group of guys that I met from Boston, Massachusetts with full blown Good Will Hunting accents and everything. These guys were literally out of a scene from the movie. They were hard core Patriots fans and taught me the game of football while watching the AFC championship playoffs. This was during the beginning of the Brady era in Foxborough when he was a young phenom. Being a Brady girl, I never really thought the day would come when I would see another quarterback in that position and be genuinely happy, that wasn't Brady. I definitely never imagined that Brady wouldn't end his career with the Pats and would take his talents to Tampa Bay.
I had never heard of Americana prior to moving to the United States in 1998. While I definitely understood that there was a distinct American culture, I had no real revelation of it until I actually lived in the States. To truly understand Americana, it is my personal belief that you need to fully engross yourself and be submerged in American life. You need to work or go to school in the US, pay taxes to the US government and be eligible to vote. When you are “living the American dream,” this is where you get to witness the phenomenon that is Americana in action.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was sitting in my AP US History Class in Valley Stream, New York. A girl from our class came upstairs from dropping off attendance to tell us that everyone in the office was crying and that something horrible had happened but she didn't know what. Shortly thereafter, our principal came over the PA to tell us that all schools in New York City and surrounding areas were on lockdown, the school was shutting down immediately and we were all to go directly home. News and rumours started spreading like wildfire and then another teacher came in to inform our teacher of what had happened. I remember her collapsing into tears because her husband worked for Time Magazine at the time and his office was in the building right next to the World Trade Centre towers. Other classmates began crying as it started to sink in that their parents or family members worked in or around the city. Initially we didn't know it was a terrorist attack on American soil. We heard early reports of a plane accidently flying into the building. As we filled out and left the school, I distinctly remember being able to see the first tower burning from the third floor as the front of my school had a clear view towards Manhattan. It wasn't until I got to the pizzeria on the corner of Merrick Blvd and Central Ave and walked in to see the second plane fly clearly into the second tower that we all knew this was not an accident. The pizzeria was packed and dead silent. Everyone stood frozen in their tracks as New Yorkers, trying to process what we were watching right before our eyes. I remember walking home in a complete daze. I had never witnessed anything like that in my life and because it was happening live, there was no censoring of anything. When I got home, my dad was sitting on the couch watching CNN. I walked in and we both sat silently and watched what was happening. We watched as human beings jumped from the highest floors of the towers, some burning alive as they did. Then in horror, we watched both towers completely collapse in on themselves. We witnessed people die in real time right in front of us on tv.
There have been a lot of buzzwords flying around lately in light of the social justice issues happening in the world. One of them that has particularly gotten on my nerves is the term "ally." Originally, this was meant to be a term geared primarily towards white people but also includes any non-Black person of colour when used in reference to the Black community. Ally is also a term I learned in my Gay/Straight Alliance group in high school. There, it meant a straight person who was a real supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community. Allyship has been viewed by some as being on the "right" side of history and a progressive/liberal ideology. But there is a real fundamental difference between an "ally" and an "accomplice."
I am unequivocally a supporter and accomplice to the LGBTQIA+ community. Anyone who knows me knows I've been actively pushing for LGBTQ + rights since high school, when I was able to move independently from my parents. In high school, I was a part of the gay/straight alliance we had. There were events at our school where gay and lesbian educators came in to educate those of us who identified as straight on a number of things, and also to educate LGBTQIA+ students on the different subcommunities and how they each experience different challenges. As straight-identifying students, we learned how to ensure we were aware of our words and the effects they had on others, when slurs such as "gay" and "fag" are thrown around as high schoolers are want to do. We had sleepovers and other community building events. I was once selected by a teacher of mine as a representative of my school to go to an all day conference that was for students who had shown leadership qualities, particularly around inclusivity. I got to sit in groups with young LGBTQ+ students from across different schools on Long Island and talk about some of the challenges they face and how as straight students we can help create safe and inclusive spaces for them. From educators to both gay and straight students, we were an allied community. We had one purpose and one goal of helping to make the world inclusive for everyone, no matter how you identified. The LGBTQIA+ members who attended knew that anyone that was there was not just an ally but an actual accomplice; someone who was willing to get in the trenches with our gay and lesbian family and fight the good fight. I mention my backstory not in any way to brag or be and sound condescending. I simply bring up the receipts to show this work is not new to me. I've been fighting for gay rights before it was the "in" thing to do socially. I always felt included by the LGBTQ+ community and that I was a part of the solution and not the problem.