BANGOR – For many people in the country, the American flag represents patriotism, but for others it takes on a completely different meaning. For one former Houlton High School athlete, she wants people to be more understanding.
“When I’m understanding something I take empathy towards what’s going on, but when I need to understand it’s like textbook kind of learning,” Houlton High School graduate, Tessa Solomon, said.
The words, understand and understanding, serve as the engine for a piece Solomon wrote about her experiences growing up in Maine.
“I wanted to further understand myself and my culture, but part of what I wrote is a suppressed memory there was things from my childhood that I didn’t actually remember,” Solomon added.
She shared accounts where she was called the n-word, came to grips with her skin and how there are two sides to every story.
“Going to the store with my mom, being called the n-word as a child, and living through school and that kind of anxiety I would feel,” she said.
Her essay was shared by former Maine senator, Olympia Snowe.
“It meant the world to me first of all. I’m very grateful for their part in all of this and for them taking the time to read what I had to say,” Solomon said.
Solomon is an Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute alumni, the organization gave her the opportunity to look up to a strong group of women when she got involved in high school.
“That opened my eyes to the possibilities for my future how to use my voice how to look toward vision and things like that and to really establish my values.” Solomon said.
“I would rather somebody ask me a question that they think would offend me then continue to live in anger and assume things because that is what brings us to this point because they are uncomfortable,” she added.
Solomon’s piece is posted and available to read on the Olympia Snowe foundation’s website.