September 11th Coverage Ignores Way Too Many

One widower says more than white firefighters and wealthy traders died on September 11th, but you couldn't tell from ten years of coverage

Gone But Not Forgotten: Felicia Yvette Traylor-Bass lost her life on 9/11 (Image: Andrew Bass)

I lost my wife and the mother of my first born on that sunny day of September 11, 2001. Her name is Felicia Yvette Traylor-Bass, and I was her husband.

Such a beautiful start to the day ended with me falling into the darkest period of my life. Watching that huge gaping black hole in the side of the North Tower, I instinctively knew we would never see Felicia again.

With both towers collapsing, the realization of my instinct became official for everyone else. The following few months showed how great humanity can be with unified cooperation, consideration and empathy that not only helped my then two-year-old son, Sebastian, and myself but also thousands of other family members. My heart swelled with pride and hope. Unfortunately, it was too short-lived.

We are days away from the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th and the bombardment of specials and shows revisiting the day’s events and its aftermath have begun. Over the past ten years, I’ve watched, read and listened to numerous tales recounted by survivors, family members, politicians and the good old media about this horrific day. If I had never heard about September 11th and relied only on these accounts, I’d believe that the only folks who died that day were firefighters and wealthy financial traders who were all white men and “good Catholics.” From nearly all the brochures, websites and other promotional material from various organizations dedicated to September 11th including the National September 11th Memorial & Museum, that same imagery is reinforced with the association that the people who died in this tragedy happened only to be white, male and Catholic.

Felicia with son, Sebastian (Image: Courtesy of Andrew Bass)

I noticed this happening about six months after the attacks, and while it irked me, I focused on making sure my son’s life went about as normal as possible. His mother would have wanted me to make sure of that, so that’s what I did. Each anniversary I would watch the ceremonies, read the articles, and still see the same thing. On the fifth anniversary, I actually went down to the ceremony on the site of the World Trade Center and the Family Tribute Center. Honestly, I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. It was very painful and emotional, but I also felt like I was an outsider to an event that had happened to me as well. It felt like this hadn’t happened to anyone like my wife or anyone else for that matter just because she wasn’t what was being constantly driven over and over again by all the media.

Five years later, it has only gotten worse. I’ve never seen a lead, first-person account of any victim of the September 11th attacks who was African-American, Latino, Asian, female, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, non-financial trader, non-firefighter or non-police. While I respect and appreciate what the firefighters and police officers did that day, they are very well aware of the risks of their jobs—which they willfully do every day. To focus primarily on their accounts is not only insulting to the thousands of civilians who lost their lives that day, but it also creates this ridiculous value system that places their lives higher than our lost loved ones. For all of us, our loved ones are priceless.

Remembrances for September 11th should be fair, balanced and account for all the different splices of life that occurred on that day. It is not about securing politicians’ legacies or some developer’s egotistical drive for wealth and real estate. Nor is it about perpetuating some American patriotic mythos. Remembrances should not be these fiefdoms where a small group of family members claim to speak for us all, yet reach out to none. Remembrances should not be about organizations created to build a memorial that secretly select family members to meet with the President of the United States, who also happens to be the first black president, and is greeted by this sea of white faces.

Ten years later, what had started out as a great show of American unity has ultimately succumbed to the dark side of our nation. The ugly faces of class, religious intolerance and race are defining how September 11th is remembered. Ten years later I am left feeling disgusted, offended and dismissed. The hardest part is when my son looks at the specials on television now or reads the news accounts and asks if anyone else like his mom died that day. I tell him yes, there were, but how do I tell him that they don’t fit the image the outlets wanted to project? At least his mom was a good Catholic.

Author Andrew Bass lives in New York with his son, his daughter and his wife, Karen.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • http://www.blackenterprise.com Sonja Mack

    Andrew, I worked with Felicia for a few years and she became a good friend. We shared food, stylists and had sleepovers among other things. Felicia was like the sun when she entered a room; she vibrated with energy and endeared herself to everyone she met. You are not alone in remembering the diversity of people lost on that day, as I knew three people who died on 9/11, Felicia being the closest to me. I have not forgotten her nor the many other faces representative of the real scope of that tragedy. And I won’t ever forget.

  • the Butlers

    Your wife is so beautiful and I’m so sorry for your loss and your son’s loss. We had the opportunity to be there on the 5 year anniversary…we saw many people remembered of the different religions and races you mentioned, in fact my wife sang for an event remembering with a Jewish Rabbi, Catholic Priest, Protestant Pastor, Buddhist Priest and Muslim authority present…I am not white and did not feel this was a “white or black” thing…or anything other than our nation being attacked by terrorists. We mourn and my wife cries about this all the time, I can’t imagine losing my wife in this tragedy and have no idea how you feel…please know we are praying for you!

  • Dre Brown

    Andrew I just want you to know that I care.

  • monica

    Maybe we should share with the nation the heroic acts of people and groups that you previously named. We don’t have to wait for others to do it. I’m only commenting because I also care.

  • Karen

    Hi Andrew, it’s Karen, Felicia’s friend from Baruch College who helped her shop for the wedding dress she wore the day you and she got married, 9/19/93. I think of you, her and especially Sebastian all the time. I’m so glad to know that you keep her memory alive for him as all the civilian survivors must do. Know that Felicia is cherished by her friends from college and the gym and if you need us we’re here.

  • Kinshasa

    Andrew, I hope this post finds you in the best of health. I couldn’t help but cry while reading this article. I don’t know you or your wife but I felt that the news media only concentrated on the wealthy people, fire fighters, & police officers that lost their lives in 9/11. I’ve thought to myself several times what about the “Every Day People”?!? Your wife is a true beauty & she’ll never be forgotten. You & your son will be in my prayers.

    • Mark Stealyogirl

      i think this is horse shit. you are just wrong buddy. geez, its not like there is an entire documentary “the falling man” about a black man during the attacks. this year there were people of ALL races telling their stories on TV. how could you possibly miss that? sloppy writing. also, what exactly are you getting out of this? what is your angle here? even if your absurd complaints were justified, they would have no purpose actually being said. fuck you

      • Ray

        Mark,

        I definitely agree with you on this one. I watched many documentaries this year that involved all races, religions and genders. Its pretty appalling to hear someone say that the media is twisting this into some white supremacy rally only praising certain people. I cannot express my condolences enough for the man’s loss of a wife and his son’s mother, however he’s absolutely out of line. As to the police and firefighters, I believe they do deserve a lot of recognition. They charged into burning buildings when most others ran the opposite direction, knowing the dangers at hand to save as many people as they could. I apologize that your wife was trapped and did not make it out, but I will hold these individuals who showed selflessness and went above and beyond the call of duty to save others. If you don’t like it, that’s fine with me. Grow up a little bit and be a better influence on your son than playing the pity/race card. It’s not the 60′s anymore

    • Guido Serbée

      Dear Andrew: Although the philosophical imputus of that day can be hashed and re-hashed again and again, the reality is that we as a nation, and indeed, the rest of the world, sympathized with EVERYONE that was directly and indirectly affected with the situation at hand, it was the story of those who valiantly went into that situation and tried to rescue those who were directly affected, that stood out in the consciousness of the world, simply because they did not need to be there. They volunteered. Each and EVERY individual will always be remembered and never forgotten. Your wife was one of more than three thousand that died that day. Does that mean that she should have 1/3000th of my sympathy? Of course not! She deserves as much as anyone else. My heart aches for the loss of that day. Oh, and then there are the more than 4000 men and women who lost their lives avenging your loss. What about them? It goes on and on.