Mercedes Edwards: Runner-up, 2016 Anne MacKay Scholarship Winner
By Mercedes Edwards
Greenport High School
Anne MacKay was a woman who stood up for some of the most prominent issues the world still faces. These issues include voting rights, disability rights, LGBT issues and more. I personally feel very strongly about the issues. I am the President of the SADD club and I am pushing for our next project to be a part of the GLSEN Day of Silence on April 15th. I feel this project could benefit greatly in our school because of its diversity. Every school has their share of diversity but out of my school and the surrounding districts, we host the most diversity.
My school has the most diversity concerning race, nationality and has its fair share of diversity concerning gender identity and sexual orientation. Especially in my generation are words such as , “fags”, “dykes”, “gay”, and so on are used in an insensitive manner. I have very little opportunity to voice an opinion and take action pertaining to the matter but on a day to day basis I try to make the most of what I can do. People have it hard enough facing problems internally with the whole process of finding out who they are without people judging them and restricting them for being themselves. As a biracial teenaged girl in high school I know only a little snippet of how my physical appearance can render the treatment I face. I can only imagine how hard it might be for those people who come from a more harsh and unaccepting place.
Every person deserves a fair chance and seeing in my school how where a person comes from and how they look changes their chances makes me want to make it better for others. I want for our school to participate in the GLSEN day of silence because although same sex marriage is legal in America now, not enough is being done to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. Too many people are stuck in a conservative mindset that puts them at a disadvantage towards moving forward and causes harm to other people for being themselves. The SADD club has also done a project where we put notes of encouragement on everyone’s locker. The purpose was to motivate all students regardless of where they came from, what they were about or how they looked/thought, to keep on going. Everyone deserves to be reminded that they are worth it and from personal experience I know not everyone is told that enough.
My mother works at San Simeon by the Sound as well as many other relatives of mine so the nursing home is very familiar to me. I have gone to the nursing home to help with the Easter egg hunts and halloween parties and during hurricane Sandy, I spent the night there. During my time there I helped the residents by delivering their meals to them and one of the most vivid memories of that experience was when I helped a woman who was in a wheelchair fix her clothes. She was uncomfortable and unable to do it herself so I helped her. I believe little things like this, if done by everyone can create a big change in the way people treat others. A big change for the better that we should be encouraging.
The summer of 2015 I had a child as a camper at the Village of Greenport Summer Day Camp that felt he was treated unfairly by other kids because of the way he looked. He said at times he wanted to kill himself because people would tell him he looked like he would bomb someone or something and how hard it was to be happy. I helped him through that not because I was obligated to or because the other counselors told me they didn’t know how to handle it but because I felt for him. I have never been told I looked like I was going to bomb something but I know, and I am sure many others at some point have experienced the feeling, of feeling unloved.
As a citizen of America, I feel it is one of my societal duties to do what I can for others. It is clear, Anne MacKay felt the same way in her way of thinking and actions. She was interested in a sense of place. She shared a love for the North Fork and environment and people should. Learning about Anne MacKay has inspired me to push to do more for people regardless of how they look or think or act. Everyone deserves a fair chance and we have gone through slavery, discrimination of all sorts and more and although we have come a long way from it, we have a long way to go until the whole world is a better place again. As a human race we owe it to ourselves to treat each other as best we can and me trying to make the GLSEN day of silence happen in my school is my way of trying to take a little step towards a big change.