American History: Ellis Island

Back in March, my 16 year old sister came to New York and we spent a week hitting up all the tourist spots. You can check out the video montage I put together here.

We had the opportunity to spend some time at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our time there ended up very brief.

I will just say this, the idea of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is more glorious than the reality of it… for a black person. Honestly, I felt out of place being there. Walking through the various rooms in the museums that celebrated or paid homage to many cultures and nationalities was bittersweet. I am happy for the many people who were able to leave behind horrible past and come to the “Land of the Free” and find new opportunities. That’s great.

But there was a lack. A lack of all things that had to do with Bianca and I. I don’t have the picture with me now but there was a data visualization board of the various cultures that came here breaking them down by nationality, gender and I believe religion. For the most part thousands and thousands of people came over here of all sorts of backgrounds. When we scrolled down to the bottom, there was almost a deficit of “black” people. It was noted that the ones that did come here…were due to slavery and not for an opportunity of freedom.

Sigh.

I just felt out of place being there. I can appreciate other cultures and I loved the site of this really old grandma showing one of the displays to her younger grandchildren proudly. That was beautiful. I should have taken a picture. But all in all I felt like I had no place there.

I’m not prone to racial issues. In the past, it definitely had its place as it related to slavery and post-slavery – pre-1980’s. But this….this was just awkward for me.

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