Coming of Age in Post-9/11 New York
Now adults, a Harlem writer and her cohort reflect on the day that changed their landscape forever.
My sixth-grade homeroom teacher said that this would be a day we would remember forever. I remember it as the day after which I had to grow up in a lot of ways; I am not alone among Americans my age. Exposed to the realities of terrorism and bigotry -- and bonding through patriotism -- my generation came of age in the wake of Sept. 11. A survey conducted by the American University School of Communications reveals that 71 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds believe that day had an impact on their lives.
Not the Same Old News
Prior to the attacks, the word "terrorism" was foreign to me. I'd never really heard it before and didn't know much about it. As names like "Osama bin Laden" and "al-Qaida" became common in my household, in school and on the news, I felt a need to grasp this concept in order to understand the motive behind what went on that day, and the state that our country would be in thereafter. After the attacks, 67 percent of the Millennial generation was more likely to be interested in the news, according to the American University study. It's one of the reasons I've decided to pursue a career in journalism.
For 23-year-old Harlem resident Sean Romere Pickett, who was in seventh grade when the attacks occurred, the events of Sept. 11 increased his interest in news coverage. "At the time of 9/11, I was very much into the news," said Pickett. "I wanted to make sense of what really happened. Anytime a catastrophic event occurs, everyone wants to tune in to the news."
His curiosity isn't shared by all of our peers. Some have found news accounts to be too much to bear. "I actually watch less of the news after 9/11," said 24-year-old Traci Byers, a Harlem-based photographer who was in high school at the time. "It makes me sad. I think the news focuses too much on the negative things that are going on in the world."
Suspicion and Curiosity
Growing religious intolerance is another aftershock of Sept. 11. Because the people who were responsible for planning the attacks were of the Islamic faith, it was hard for some individuals to dissociate that religion from terrorism, leading to racial profiling of Muslims in the U.S.