An Open Letter to America

Words by Annie Blay / @blayannie

Dear America,
How did we get here? I have been trying since election night to formulate my thoughts and emotions into words; but the shock of it all has halted me. It seemed like for a moment we had made progress; we elected our first black president twice, we made gay marriage legal, and we were well on our way to electing our first female president. For many like myself, the prospect of having a woman president is major; just like the feeling I had when President Obama ran, Hillary’s campaign gave me a strong sense of hope. On November 8th, that hope was shattered. When My mother woke me up at 3am to tell me that our new President-elect was Donald Trump, I legitimately thought I was dreaming. When it sank in I burst into tears; tears which at the time were  involuntary but very justified. In that moment, I felt so betrayed.
Living in northeast I am shielded by the liberal bubble that is New York. I am privileged in the sense that the level of prejudice in my state is not at the level as it is in some southern and western states. Due to this, I was somewhat surprised to find that a significant portion of our country, supports Trump’s racist, bigoted ideology, to the point of electing him to the highest office in the country. I sometimes forget that there are people in this country who don’t value the lives of people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and even women. What saddens me even more is that due to this election, I have learned that an overwhelming number of Americans simply don’t care about people such as myself and the others listed above.
To all those who supported and voted for Trump, many people, including myself feel, offended, disgusted and outcasted, that you would support a man whose rhetoric has so often been derogatory towards us; that you would favor a “good economic plan” at the expense of our rights. To Trump supporters who think it’s okay to scream heinous, racists comments online and off, or for the ones who can’t even be bothered with the concerns of minorities, I will say this one thing: Do unto other as you would have done to yourself. No matter how loud you shout, how hurtful your words or how cold your disregard; we will not be stifled; we will not be bullied; we will not be silenced. Many before us have fought for the rights we have today and we will continue to struggle for those rights.
I have tried over and over again to give America a chance; Despite the pain and anger I still feel over the centuries of oppression perpetrated by America. I tried to buy into the idea that America is “Land of the free” and that it gives “Justice to all”.  I have tried to listen to social studies teacher after social studies teacher, who told me that America is still great and redeemable; that despite its horrific past, it's glory lies in its future. Well I won't do it anymore. I will let myself be mad at America, because it has failed me as it has failed millions of people who are currently, justifiably distressed. At this point in time, I feel ashamed to live in a country where many people deem my life invaluable. I feel ashamed to live in a country where so many people refuse to take responsibility for their prejudice actions and contrarily many are overtly prejudice. In voting for Trump, America has shown that it is not ready for change, not ready to accept all its citizens as equal and not ready to let go of a past full of hate and intolerance.
As an African American, I feel scared, as a female, I feel dispirited and as a young person, I feel cheated. I feel scared for my life as I know it and the safety of my fellow people of color; I feel dispirited in the evidence that no matter how hard I work or how prepared I am, I could fail and possibly because of my gender. I feel cheated out of the future that I have been preparing and look forward to.
To Donald Trump, I am explicitly angry at the way you conducted your campaign and appealed to your followers. I disagree with many if not all of your views, however, the decision has been made and I must make my peace with it. Moving forward I would like you to remember that, on behalf of the women in this country, we are not something you can just grab at your simple desire; on behalf of African-Americans,  we are not  inner city people living in hell with nothing to lose. On behalf of the Hispanics in this country, they are not bad “hombres” who will bring rape and drugs into this country. On behalf of Muslim-Americans, they are not all radical terrorists who need to be barred from this country. On behalf of the LGBT community, they are not confused people, acting against nature. I beg you, in your four years as president, please don’t treat us like you insinuated you would over the past 18 months. Many of us feel like we don't have a place in your America, so prove us wrong. Take us into consideration. Although we didn’t support you at large, you still have a duty to protect and advocate for the rights of every single citizen in this country. Pertaining to immigrants, please do not tear innocent families apart. As the child of an immigrant, I am personally disturbed by your agenda to deport a mass amount of immigrants. Millions of immigrants that live and work in this country are making great contributions, including the families they are building. Every citizen and those yet to become citizens deserve your time, consideration and respect. Act with compassion while making decisions that will alter lives, forever. You may have been elected president, but until you earn my respect and trust, I do not consider you my president.
To Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, thank you for giving little girls everywhere the hope that we can and should dream as big as our hearts desire and that peacefully fighting for what you believe in is always worth it. I hope you know that we won't mourn this loss forever and that we will continue the fight for women’s rights. This loss as painful as it is, means that someone’s daughter now has the opportunity, and the confidence to work towards becoming America’s first female president and I truly believe that you have made that more possible. To President Obama, you have no idea what you have meant to me and others like myself. You have given us an immense amount of pride and I can’t put into words how grateful I am, for everything you have tried to accomplish for this country over the past eight years. To everyone feeling, hopeless, upset and angry right now, we need to take time to process, but we need to organize and stand together to fight any hateful opposition that rises in the coming years. Like Hillary told us time and time again, we are stronger together. Don’t lose hope, continue to push for positive change and never let voice of hate silence you. In the words of David Remnick of The New Yorker, “...combat authoritarianism, call out lies, struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do.”
I hope and pray that this country finds its way to prosperity. A prosperity that includes every citizen and those who hope to become citizens. If America is to be great, we must stand together, embracing all our differences as what will make this country thrive.
A young black woman

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