Musings – An American journey

By Anna Maria Aniban

The first time I was asked this question was in the early 70s. A new bride at 22, I was being introduced by my white, blue-eyed husband (now ex) to his family and friends in the south. Our host’s mother was proud to recount her travels to SEA, India, and other parts of that world. Then, she turned to me and said, “We didn’t have time to see your country but someday, I would like to meet your people.” It was a compliment I thought for someone to show interest in my country. Just a week ago, I was still in my country.

A decade past, divorced with an American passport obtained not through marriage but by choice, basking in the glory of reaching an upper middle management position in a Fortune 500 company, it was a pleasure to go in and out of mainstream white society with ease. This was in the early 80s when equal employment opportunity was aggressively enforced and a female with the right qualifications, no matter what ethnic background, was “pushed” into management. A few remarked on the beauty of a flawless naturally tanned complexion, shiny long black hair, fluid command of the English language, and an ability to banter effortlessly with a touch of the American sense of humor.

But times really haven’t changed that much from the 70s. Invited to a catered afternoon tea party on the Upper West Side, a lovely blonde who left the corporate world to be a successful chef, casually asked me, “When are you going to visit your country again?”  She knew that I loved to travel and we were just talking about my recent vacation in Switzerland. It was the first time the reference to “your country” created a mental and an emotional stir.

“Your country?” I felt like an outsider and yearned to belong.

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Peter Cooper filmmaker takes aim at gun violence

Jamie Kirkpatrick

Jamie Kirkpatrick

By Sabina Mollot

Jamie Kirkpatrick, a Peter Cooper Village dad and an editor and filmmaker, was a college student in Boston when he and a group of friends were held up at gunpoint.

The perps were a pair of teenagers who demanded cash from Kirkpatrick and his friends as they had walked down the street. Seeing the gun in the older teen’s hand, which looked more like a toy or, as Kirkpatrick put it “a fake Hollywood gun,” the students initially ignored the muggers’ demand and kept walking. That’s when they heard the deafening blast of a warning shot being fired into the air. The gun, Kirkpatrick would later learn, was a semi-automatic assault pistol, “not your typical street gun.”

But, he added, “Part of the problem is that it looked like such a toy.”

No one in the group was hit, but at that point, they stopped in their tracks and were subsequently robbed.

The teens were later caught, however. The younger one, who was 15, did some time in a juvenile detention center and was later transferred to an adult jail, while his partner, who was 17 and had a previous gun conviction, was tried as an adult and sentenced to eight years.

“It was really sad. They were just two young kids,” said Kirkpatrick, who, two decades later, plans on making a short film about the lax gun laws in many areas of the country as well as irresponsible gun use.

The film, titled “Squeeze,” isn’t a documentary but rather a fictional story on the consequences of the aforementioned issues. It focuses on how a gun that’s owned by a convicted felon and father winds up in the hands of all the different members of his family.

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