In Thomas J. Lucente Jr.’s column Sunday, he stated “race is nothing but a social construct that carries no significance.” Being of Caucasian European heritage, I cannot fully grasp the plight of racial minorities in this country. However, I can appreciate what it means to be a woman of Irish heritage. In doing so, I must honor and appreciate the sacrifice of the women and immigrants who came before me and who struggled to win my independence and reposition the wind to my back. At what point did it become necessary to disavow one’s personal or cultural identity in order to be part of the “human race”?
To be American means we can take pride in whom and where we came from without it defining who we are permitted to become. It is absurd to expect me to lump myself in with the masses and leave my identity at the door, to forget who I am, at my core, as if none of that has any meaning or consequence. Race is not the culprit. Race becomes problematic when I cannot take pride in who I am without being discredited for being something other than who you are.
Who are we if we cannot identify with that which makes us unique in our society? Should my pride in being American negate my right to also honor my standing as a woman of Irish heritage? This nation has always been a land of immigrants; a grand experiment in the blending of races, cultures and religions. To be American is to be part of something bigger than ourselves. However, if we lose ourselves, what have we really achieved?