Sr. John Says: Who do you say America is?


Sr. John Michele Southwick, IHM, Special Contributor to The Wood Word

Who is America?

If you were asked that question, how would you answer? In my mind, America was a melting pot of people from different backgrounds and countries who came here to start a new life. The only people here in the beginning were the Native Americans. So, nobody was really American to start off.

It seems for as long as I can remember there was racial tension. I grew up in the civil rights era. I lived near an army and air force base and many of the military families lived in my town. If they were African American, they lived in only one section of our town. I could never figure that out.

As the African-American families started to move into other sections of town, other families began to panic and get in an uproar. I thought to myself, “How crazy is all of this? They are only families, the same as mine!” It took years and years of pain and anger for people to begin to accept them and allow them to live in peace and harmony.

Then, slowly things got calmer. For a while, I thought all that was over; now, we are starting it all over again.

WHY? Why does the color of ones’ skin matter so much? Why are people so afraid of difference?
There is a video online called “College kids react to racism in America.”It shows college students watching a video of 1940s talk about getting rid of blacks and immigrants and any outsiders. The students’ reactions are priceless! What is your reaction?

Hurricane Harvey has shown us what and who America is! One neighbor helping another. It doesn’t matter what color, religion, what ethnic origin, where you live or what kind of house you have. The important thing is reaching out to one another and forming community.

That is who America is!

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