By Caroline DiNapoli.
I will not address you by your title. You can criticize me for being unpatriotic, but since this letter is about honesty and raw emotion, I will tell you that right now I am not proud to be an American. This is a sentiment that planted its seed in November of 2016. It grew its roots this past semester as you prioritized economic wellbeing over the health of our country’s citizens, and its plant is flourishing as you continue to fail to respond to the institutionalized racism and discrimination that plagues our nation. We are fighting not one but two sicknesses: a disease that has barreled across the states showing no mercy and no discrimination, and a cancer that is deeply rooted in our bones. We are fighting two sicknesses that you have continuously failed to address with the severity and seriousness that they demand. So, for this reason and many others I will not address you by your title, because you are not my president. My president is kind, he/she is someone who has so much love for the citizens of our country that it is palpable through the TV screen. My president is informed, he/she listens to and implements the opinions of experts and is grateful for the support and help they receive. My president is humble, he/she is able to admit when they are wrong and not let pride get the better of them. My president embodies so many traits that you lack but most importantly my president is courageous. He/she has the courage to make fundamental and controversial changes that are going to push us as a nation to be better. And he/she will do this with no question of how it will benefit their own lives and without the concern of reelection. “Problem” seems like too little of a word to embody this situation, but for simplicity I will say that I know racism has been a problem long before you were president. But there is something about you that brings out the ugliest side of this country. I don’t even want to watch the news anymore because I get so deeply saddened and disgusted every time I hear of another one of the ways you are moving this country backwards. I cannot wrap my mind around the nonsensical sentences that come out of your mouth, sentences of hate and malice and privilege. Do you recognize your privilege? Because I don’t think you do. In fact, that is something I’m pretty positive of, because you have yet to prove that you can listen to the concerns and pleas of your constituents. But guess what, the voices are rising, do you hear them yet? When I was on my run this morning (something I will no longer do without thinking of Ahmaud Arbery and how privileged I am that I can run and feel safe) the song “Do you hear the people sing” from Les Mis came on and I had to stop. I was crying and so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. That song resonated with what I had been seeing with the riots in my home city. So, I ask again, are you listening? Have you stepped out of the confines of your big white house to really listen to the people of the country that you are “leading”? Because they aren’t just singing anymore, they are belting out with every fiber of their being a song that screams of anguish and oppression. This song is a fire that started long ago but is one that you have fed with every character of your tweets and every heinous remark that you have verbally vomited on a global stage.
Now to end this letter, I am going to turn my attention away from you to talk to people who are undeniably more deserving of it. To the men and women of color, and more specifically to the members of the black community that are reading this, I am here for you. I may never know your pain, but I am listening, and I am eager to learn. I am educating myself so I can spread this knowledge to those around me and continue to share your story. I am fighting with you. I am mourning with you and I am crying with you. But most importantly, I am singing with you. And every note is coming from the deepest part of love in my heart, because you matter.
An Active Ally