You, who hold hate in your heart. You, who wear ignorance like a shield. You, who hasten to shallow judgments. And you, to whom color is a threat instead of a gift.
This is my love letter to you.
The day before our 2016 Presidential Election, with a country so divided, I thought it would be a nice moment to write you this letter. And as you read, bear in mind that I have one question for you. Simply: why?
Let me tell you a little about myself; something you will never need to know in order to determine who I am or the intention in my soul: I am of mixed race. Black. Mexican. And white.
My DNA is coded with an amalgam of suffering, greed, ingenuity, creation, tragedy, triumph, and much, much more. My DNA carries so many stories. And in the years I’ve lived, I’ve carved out my own place within the legacy that runs through my blood.
But it is possible, and quite probable, that what matters most to you when you first see me is the color of my skin. You decide that it means something to you. You index it, you index me, and you make a decision about who I am. My value. What I’m capable of.
Why do you do that?
Really, what is color? The production of melanin. The refraction of light. Its dance across autumn leaves and sunset skies is the very thing that makes this world so beautiful. And yet, to you, color among your fellow world citizens is a thing to be exploited, suppressed, shamed, or feared—not celebrated.
You’ve said Mexicans are stealing American jobs, when much of American land was once Mexico—before it was stolen. You fear the descendants of black men and women who were kidnapped and brought here in slave ships, who’ve only ever asked for equality. (And on a side-note, you demand Pro-Life legislation, but then abandon the social welfare programs needed to sustain those lives you picket for.)
Republican, Democrat, I don’t care. I don’t care who you’re voting for, what props you want passed, or what bills you want ratified.
I just want to know why.
No, our past is not gone. You cannot cherry-pick the victories of our past without also taking the disgraces. You cannot today enjoy the countless fruits of steel, oil, or cotton without acknowledging the atrocity those industries were built on. And if you do try to—if you dare even for a moment to defend those crimes or deny the emotional and material debt they’ve created—I ask you:
Our past has paved the road to our current national and global communities; to the separation and systemic partiality that plagues us still. Systems and constructs, built by you. Yes, you. Built by your hatred. And your ignorance. Maintained by a need to feel powerful, or even worse, to feel safe. Perpetuated at the highest level by gluttonous greed. But effected with impunity on a mass scale because of one simple thing. Your inability to stop, and look inside, and truthfully answer this one question:
These constructs are not working. They generate violence, dissension, guilt, and numbness. You feel it. And you don’t know why. But it’s because—
These constructs and systems inevitably hurt you, too.
Like tall, thick walls carefully designed to keep others out, they also keep you in. Inside a prison of your own making, you are blinded from seeing the hearts and minds of so many people. Blinded, even, from human compassion. Connection. And so many beautiful things.
That is why this is a love letter. Because I want you to see. I want us all to see. There is so much beyond color in this country, and in this world. There is a story waiting to be discovered in every person. The hues of humankind are far more gradient and luminous than any sunset sky—if you open your eyes. If you climb over the walls. Even better if you start tearing them down.
No matter how different we all may be, as humans, we are all we have. We must stop hating each other. We must stop refusing to see each other.
We must decide to love each other.