An Open Letter, A Promise


To those who most need to hear this right now,

The last twenty-four hours have been jarring on a number of levels, both personally and politically. To say that I am shocked would be an understatement.

As a CIS white male living in the state of California, having the privilege to attend a university that seeks to exemplify those qualities that we would find in a just, compassionate, and equal-voiced and ubiquitously enfranchised society, and having the privilege of privilege itself I believed that the world and my country were not capable of doing what they did last night. That is to say, I believed that we were making progress as a society.

It is both infuriating and heart-breaking to know that the values that I have are shared by a majority of the people of this country, but not by an electorate that has used fear of the Other and hatred of the innocent and voiceless to push an agenda that will undermine all we have accomplished.

As a country, we have lost something precious — a piece of ourselves, of our identity — that we cannot yet fully comprehend or appreciate; as individuals, we have lost what little moral credibility we have. As a society, we are no longer allowed to claim that we stand for freedom and justice and equality, that we welcome the poor and huddled masses with open arms and compassion in our hearts. As a society, we must now accept that we have learned nothing, that we have chosen to abandon our friends and families, our neighbors and those who would be our fellow citizens, our identity as a nation of immigrants and the Others who made us into the power that we are. We may no longer ignorantly claim our embrace of minorities or our respect for those who are not like me, and we are morally obliged to renounce our claims of freedom to be whoever you are. We must accept that (too) many citizens of this country believe in the values that America ostensibly stands for only insofar as they are benefitted by them. We must accept that they believe those values to be merely suggestions, open to interpretation given the whims they may feel right now, and that the apparent respect they hold for their country — their patriotism and love for America — is no more than a proxy of their love for themselves.

I was not raised this way. I did not grow up in a family that put individual members or even the family unit before the good of the society within which we lived. I was raised to give everything I have to anyone who needed my help. No limit was placed on the degree to which that help might be engendered, and it was understood and actively embraced that our community — with all of its beautiful, wonderful, perspective-altering diversity — was more important than we were.

I have spent the last twenty-six years learning from and embracing all around me, and I am so fortunate and privileged to be able to say that many of my closest friends are minorities, women, POC, LGBTQ-identifying, and citizens of other nations. They have taught me more than I can ever possibly describe here, and they are my family, my community, my moral compass. These are not our enemies; these are people like you and me. They have dreams, fears, desires, rich cultural traditions, and stories that make us stop and say, “wow, I never thought about it that way before.” They are our best friends, our relatives, our coworkers, our countrymen, and members of our society. America is them. America is us.

This letter was written and rewritten a hundred times since the news broke late last night. I have struggled with what I might say, what I might be able to add to the narrative that is sweeping our social media sites and news outlets. And I must admit, I do not know if even this will do what I am hoping it will do: help those who need hope know they are loved and not alone.

To all of my fellow human beings, no matter what color you are, who you love, what gender you identify with, what you believe in, who you worship, or what country you call home I want you to know that I will do everything I can as human being to help you, love you, and make you feel welcome in my community. I want you to know that I will listen to what you have to say, that I will defend you if you want or need me to, and that I will not allow fear or ignorance to keep you from being a part of my country and from having a voice equal to my own. In what capacities I have, I will do my best to follow these ideals each and every day.

You are loved for all of your diversity and uniqueness. No matter what is said or done by the political machine over these next several years, we will never stop fighting for you. We will never stop.

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