#amwriting I am an American by Tracy Diane Miller

I am an American. I have always been proud of being an American. I have always been grateful for the educational opportunities afforded me by this great country. I have always subscribed to the beliefs of inclusion & diversity in this country.

I don’t often talk about politics on social media. I suppose there are some people who may view my silence on political issues as not caring or worst, an endorsement of the frightening direction that I see our country heading.

I have been called names of hate all my life. The first time that I was called the “n” word, I was a little girl. I remember the day it happened. I remember how much I cried about it. Over 40 years later, I still remember how much I cried.

My mother (who was born in segregated Virginia in 1924) told me the hatred and ugliness of that word as well as the hatred and ugliness poisoning the hearts of those who willingly use it. Most recently (just a few days ago), I was called the “n” word & told that I should “go back to my own country.” To those ignorant individuals, I am an American. This is my country, just as it is your country. There is a certain bit of irony in the fact that I was born on July 4th. While my “birthday credentials” (which I had no control over) doesn’t make me more American than someone else born in this country, it is a very sad commentary that people who feast on hate & ignorance spew this garbage.

I have had people undermine my academic achievements assuming that when I proudly tell them that I attended both college & law school on full scholarships, their comments are “that’s nice that you got those black scholarships to go to school.” Then I remember that my grandmother was born in rural Virginia in 1907 & only had a 6th grade education. Then I remember that I grew up in a very violent & economically depressed Philadelphia neighborhood & attended a less than stellar elementary school. Then I remember how my mother always championed education as a way of rising above one’s circumstances. Then I remember that I was able to attend a high school that boasted a national reputation for academic excellence. Then I remember that I graduated in the top 1% of my college graduation class and was elected as a member of Phi Beta Kappa (the oldest academic honor society in this country). I worked extremely hard for my education. Still, there are some people who look at me, who don’t know me, see my skin color & automatically view me with disdain. This country was built on the blood of immigrants. Inclusion must continue to be a cornerstone of America.

I have a voice. Even though I’m retired from the legal profession & now make my living as a writer, there are tremendous advantages to my legal education that I’m putting to use to challenge what I’m seeing in the direction this country is heading.

I am an American. I have a voice. For those of you who erroneously assume that I am oblivious & silent, I can say that I have found the avenues where I can best use my voice in the most constructive manner.