NYC: What Is it about You?

On Saturday, we took Adella and her cousins to New York City for a day of music at Lincoln Center and good old American culture.

On the way downtown, I checked out my Google News and saw that there were shootings around the country and random acts of brutality abroad.
Idiots, Islamists, and other freaks aside, I couldn't take my eyes off the kids and the city around us.  All of this is deliberate, I thought.  We walked around a designed place.   All the glass, all the light, all the reaching--so much art and so much faith in people.  New York displays the architecture of the possible.  You can't make it up--but somebody did.
Inside the Warner Center, we ate and shopped and got a good look at that poster boy of European imperialism himself, Christoper Columbus.  And God bless him because not only did his audacity make its way into my world in the form of a day off from school in October but also because he sailed to the edge of the known world and did not fall off--and this at a time when people believed in God and dragons and the edges of things.  Back then, who else was willing to stick their big toe beyond the edge? (Nobody, or we'd have two days off from school.)  Where would the Renaissance be without this guy?

I am not apologizing for Columbus's exploitation of the Caribbean islanders.  I am not apologizing for anything.  I was not there, and I did not do it.  My ancestors didn't take anything from anybody in the New World until the Mayflower dropped anchor not two hundred years later.  And I am not apologizing for what they did wrong because I did not do it.  I am saying that I am in awe of their audacity and their ability to imagine a new way of being.  Because here we are with a New York where kids can walk around in their Halloween costumes and receive candy from strangers with good, big hearts.  Here, gay couples can fawn over each other in Central Park, and it's all good.  Here, Muslims with DSLRs can photograph me and my family in the same park, and we didn't freak out.  Here, women who subject themselves to Sharia law and enshroud themselves in layers of veils can tend their children alongside self-respecting Western women who take making eye contact for granted, and it's all good.  Here, every race, creed, and color, can show up and live life and it's all good.
I come from a long line of hard-working working-class people.  As a public-school teacher, I continue that tradition.  I work well beyond the hours for which I am paid, and  I care about my work and my students far more than anybody expects me to.  This is my patriotic duty.  Previous generations of my family signed up for military service, fought our wars, and died in battle.  They were ready to put everything on the line for what they believe.  I do the same, but I don't shoot at anybody; I call home and say, "Would you ask your kid to do his homework, please."  In some ways, it's a harder battle.
The rewards?  My daughter can eat a macaroon and just plain enjoy life.  Out in the open.  And here are her eyes.
And here is art, but who knows what it means.  While we waited for my macaroon-eating daughter to finish in the lavatory, my nephews contemplated this work of art at Lincoln Center.  The best that they could come up with is that it is on wheels.  And it has something to do with musical notes, I said. We weren't wrong and it didn't matter, and our apologies to the sculptor--but we're representational art kind of people except when we are listening to music.  Then, we are all about feeling.  So, maybe skip the sculpture.
Not lost on me right now is the fact that I can say this because I live in the unveiled, open-eyed, in-your-face free world that 14 generations of my family have fought for and that I defend every day as a public school teacher.

To the Muslim gentlemen who assumed the right to photograph me and my family, I say this: Don't tread on me.  Thank Allah for the privilege of being where you are: in the free world.  I know I thank my God for the hard-won privilege.


Comments

  1. powerful words, I agree with you on the wonders of being American...

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  2. Well said Sandy, or better yet, beautifully written.

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  3. I truly concur with what you said ...to many sad realities surrounding us nowadays. Being a moslem living in NYC, I feel the safety and the freedom as you depicted in your writing..cheers..

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  4. Amen, preach it, let her rip. I love it when you are outspoken.

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  5. As always, you said it well.

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  6. Thank you!! And, yes, no one says it better!!! Like Yogi, I do love it when you are outspoken!! We all need to do more of it!! Again, thank you!!

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  7. Hi Sandy ~~ I came here looking for the elusive "Sky Watch" hosting. Yogi had on her blog that you and she were doing it but neither has a lick of Mr. Linky or other means of linking up for it.
    Then as I browsed on down I came across this post. Yes, we like NYC and were hardly scared when we would walk from Times Square to Ninth Street at Ninth Avenue for our hotel. We did walk past a Hood basket ball court that I think was used for a Cher video. That was scary, in the dark.
    I do take offense at your saying that the Pilgrims did wrong. (" My ancestors didn't take anything from anybody in the New World until the Mayflower dropped anchor not two hundred years later. And I am not apologizing for what they did wrong because I did not do it.")
    They were very good to the American Indians and traded agricultural knowhow. Good for both. The Indians were very gracious and courteous towards them, and vice versa.
    ..

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  8. Jim,
    I'm not sure I understand from your comment what offends you about what I said, but I appreciate your taking the time to express yourself.

    My pilgrim ancestors took what they could from the locals. They were bastards, too. If they had some farming advice, that's great. But they took a whole lot of shit they had no right to and signed God's name to the permission slip. But it worked out.

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