Dear Resident

by  

I write this column today from a perspective different than the one I had prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the day that thousands of lives and America’s sense of security were lost in the attack on the New York Trade Center. For me and many others, I’m sure that watching the events of Sept. 11 unfold was surreal, like something out of a movie. A scary movie, to our dismay, that has come true.

Nothing will ever be the same again. As males and females, adolescents and adults, Black, White, Indian, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim Americans, we will never be the same again.

For many Americans, there’s a heightened sense of fear. A heightened sense of vulnerability. But there is also a heightened sense of American pride and unity. And again, for me and many others, I’m sure that there is a sense of surrealism, like something out of a movie.

I could say that as public housing residents, we have lived with fear and vulnerability, without a sense of pride and unity for so long that anything else is unimaginable. But I don’t believe that it would account for our sense of feeling as if we were watching a movie versus watching the America that has been shaken to its very foundation. The New York Trade Center attack has been described by the media as having hit the heart of America. I follow as much of the coverage as I can bear via the newspaper, television and Internet, looking at pictures and reading names, but not seeing anyone from our America.

As a human being, I am fear-stricken by the violent loss of human life, most likely as it reminds me of my own mortality (the nature of man, as having eventually to die).

As a mother, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor, my heart is heavy knowing the grief of those who have lost loved ones so tragically. But as an American, I feel somewhat surreal, removed, because I have never felt a part of the America that was attacked. Perhaps if I were in New York and not watching television, it would seem more real. I now fear that the reality of our America can be likened to the effect on the rest of a body when it suffers a heart attack. As the heart of America suffers, so will we.

The loss, unlike the gain of America, will run, not trickle down. If the heart of America loses, we will lose, too. It may seem impossible because it would appear that we have nothing to lose but we will lose. As things become more difficult for the heart of America, they will become more difficult for us. As they lose jobs, we will lose jobs. As they have less, we will have less. And as their America comes together, our America must come together, too.

We must become aware, conscious of our surroundings, what we do and what we say. For as America moves to protect its heart (airports, public buildings, etc.), it leaves the rest of its body vulnerable.

Whatever American we may be, we cannot fall back into a false sense of security, hoping, thinking that it is someone else’s responsibility to keep us safe. From Sept. 11, 2001 on, it is everyones responsibility to keep safe.

I wish that we felt a sense of unity and pride in our America. It is the best that could come out of such a tragedy. We must, however, avoid an increased attitude of hopelessness as these things may occur. Such an attitude would only lead to an increase in the problems that already plague our America.

Tonight, Sept. 20, 2001, as I sit watching President George W. Bush address the nation, I look around the room and again, I see no one from our America. As President Bush speaks of the attack against humanity, the fight for freedom and the loss of life, I am taken back to what it must have been like for my ancestors in America.

And suddenly, I feel America’s resolve (determination) to stand against those that would oppress them (to keep down by the cruel and unjust use of power and authority). I feel their anger and taste their outrage but it doesn’t bring me any closer to their America. For my America is the result of theirs.

My chest tightens and my heart is heavy but suddenly, I feel closer to America. I feel closer because I now know that they must understand the anguish of my America. An anguish that is consciously for some and unconsciously for others still with us today.

As I turn my attention to the future, I would hope that they would give my America the retribution* that they now seek, thus finally making our two Americas one.

May God bless us all!

-Pat

*Retribution in the form of reparations has been put before America.

Retribution: something administered or exacted in recompense;

Recompense: to give compensation, pay for;

Reparation refers to the making of amends, specifically the paying of compensation (money), for some wrong or injury; compensation by a nation for crimes committed against individuals:

Websters’ New World Dictionary

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