Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Proud to be an American

American Flag 12-01-2009.
American flag made out of recyclable plastic by artbikemike on Flickr.  Love this.

Seeing the flurry of patriotic statements about "never forgetting" and the associated flag-filled images on Facebook gave me that same uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach that I felt in 2001. So I wrote this as my status:
12 years later, I'm still uncomfortable when I see all the 9/11-related patriotism and statements. Yes, it was a horrible act of violence. But I will also never forget being viewed by my fellow Americans with distrust just for being brown and looking "like them".
I'm sure, in my 900+ Facebook "friends" there were those who thought this was inappropriate to post, or thought it was reasonable collateral damage for what "they" did to us.  Thankfully they kept their thoughts to themselves.  (I've unfriended some already for making offensive comments about Lunar New Year, racial slurs against our president, and general assholery after the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin verdict.)

Yesterday a friend told me that the new Miss America is Indian-American. I was stunned, and even though I think beauty pageants are stupid, sexist and outdated, I was just a little bit thrilled.  I've written before about how I feel invisible in popular culture.

As it turns out, the "article" he linked was actually a collection of really ignorant and racist tweets posted after Nina Davuluri's win was announced.  You know, the usual stuff calling her a terrorist, foreigner, blah blah blah.

I'd love to say I was surprised to see them, but I'm not.  You see, I grew up in Western Pennsylvania in the 80s. It was mostly white and Catholic, neither diverse nor liberal, and the polar opposite of where I live now.  As a child I was taunted for the color of my skin, my parents' religion, my "weird" name, told to go back to my country (uh, born in Pittsburgh, thanks), called "camel jockey", etc.

My experience is sadly not unique, as my friend N wrote so eloquently yesterday. While I can thankfully say that I really don't encounter racism anymore, many still do.

I'm rolling my eyes at CNN and other news media picking up the racism/ignorance angle and being so shocked about it.  I mean really, are there people who think this stuff doesn't exist in our "enlightened" times?

But another part of me is thrilled that (at least some) mainstream media is calling it out as unacceptable and defending Nina Davuluri's "right" to be chosen as Miss America.  (As stupid as I think the whole idea of Miss America really is.)

So maybe the times, they are a-changin'.  Just a little.


  1. Thanks for linking to the other post. I was horrified.

    So glad you're in a city good for you.

    When D and I first started "going out" in 92, we got lots of stares. This was pre-Mandela's release which means I'm now showing my age!!! :)


    1. Yeah, we'd definitely get stares as a family if we lived in a different part of the US.

  2. Thank you for sharing my post! I was thinking of your FB status, but didn't want to call you out for a personal fb post on my blog. Will gladly do so now :)
    It sucks that you went through that. In a way it has been comforting to know that I was not alone and that I'm not a crazy person who is paranoid for no reason. I think racism is all about holding power over someone. We help take that power away by speaking out against it. Thank you.

    1. You are definitely not crazy, and I am so sad for you that you're still dealing with this garbage in your adult life. Hopefully Austin will be MUCH better.

  3. I got a little obsessed with those racist tweets the other day, and started looking up some of the twitter handles to see if I could figure out who these dumbasses were. I was saddened, but not terribly surprised, to find that quite a few were white, football-loving, teenage boys.

    So I sat my own white, football-loving teenage boy down yesterday and asked him, "How can you tell if someone is not an American?" "Umm, check their passport?" "So you can't tell just by looking at them?" "No, I mean, I guess if they look lost. Haha." And then I asked, "Can you be Muslim and be an American?" He said, "Of course. We don't have a set religion in this country." Then he went off on something about the separation of church and state, but I wasn't really paying attention because I was too busy being relieved. And then we discussed that if he overhears people being racist or mean, he needs to be the outspoken voice of reason among idiots.

    At any rate, I've read people rant about how publishing stuff like those tweets are fueling the fire, and how those idiots are just the minority scum of the U.S. But I'm with you and your friend, this is fueling a discussion that needs to be had.

    1. Thank you for doing this with your son. I appreciate it :) And clearly you have raised him right!!

  4. yeah...I grew up in the deep south. Same experience. Your friend's post made my chest hurt, imagining this happening to my boys. In some ways I'm not surprised, but maybe I did hope for a lot better in the 30+ years since I went through that nonsense.

    1. I think (or hope, anyway) that it's better, though it hasn't changed as much as one would hope.


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