Dear Mr(s) President,
I am writing to you from the perspective of a young queer girl of color. When I first considered what I wanted to write to you, I had a list of about forty things you could change to make America better. After some thought, I realized that a lot of the topics I’d come up with could be fixed simply. We need a change in perspective in this country, then it would be then in the hands of the people to change things ourselves. We the people are so used to a certain image being the default, and if we changed our mindsets and redirected our priorities, we could make a lot of change without the government getting involved.
More than anything, we need representation. While women like Zendaya Coleman and Amandla Stenberg do amazing work for the black and feminist community, we also need trans women of color like Laverne Cox as role models for our children. We need to raise our level of tolerance and come to an understanding; it’s okay to have an opinion, unless it threatens someone else’s existence. We need to stop viewing Muslims and immigrants as a threat and start pointing to businessmen taking advantage of our people. Large companies like Facebook pretend to want to connect us and make things more efficient for us. In reality, they exploit our desires so that they can take away our privacy, and make more money. We often prejudge people and view anyone outside the criteria we as a society have created as a threat. We point fingers at the wrong people, based on our stereotypes. It’s almost as if there are a list of guidelines for the bigoted to follow. Not white, cis, straight or male? Sorry, this isn’t the place for you. It’s obvious by now that this way of thinking isn’t working out. Innocent Muslimahs (Muslim women) are being humiliated and assaulted in public, young brown boys are being slaughtered by the day, and trans women of color are hunted down like wild animals.
Now, I can’t blame everything on the white man, because we as minorities have fed into our oppression ourselves. Some of us pretend that we are not oppressed, while others sit back and complain without any plan of action. We pay more attention to what Kylie Jenner puts in her Ramen and what shoes we have on our feet, while the government steals from other countries and we live in low-income housing. We strive to appease anyone who will give us more money and forget about morals and loyalty completely. While some of the country can account for more blame than others, we all need to do better.
The main reason that our society is so intolerant is because we’ve learned to only view one side of a story, make an assumption, and stick to it. We forget that there are two sides to every coin and are so unwilling to look at the stories of both the victim and the perpetrator. We need a trustworthy, unbiased media source, so that we have an opportunity to see the full story, and then make a decision on whether we support the issue. It would definitely clash with the first amendment if a policy were made, we all deserve to say what we want. However, it is up to the general public to question everything more critically; is what we’re being fed through the media matching up with what really happened?
So, how do we start? There is no use in proposing change without a first step. Forcing everything of the general public all at once would be too overwhelming, as we’ve seen with the LGBT+ movement. The changes could be made gradually. It’s like a school essay; propose the idea, show the benefits of it, and provide examples of how it has worked for other people. Little by little, these ideas would become the norm just like everything else we’ve introduced to society. In 1984, Audre Lorde wrote a book called Sister Outsider. In it, she spoke on many types of oppression. “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” She believed that there would never be any real change for minorities, and even though she’s passed, I’d like nothing more than to prove her wrong. We can make a change, we just need to put in the work for it like our ancestors did.
I understand that as president, you have certain duties and that it is in your best interest to appease certain elites, but a change in culture is more important than the support of rich people who only want more money, not peace. I cannot stress enough how much we need new policies regarding our authority enforcement, education, and immigration. The youth are the future of America, but what is the point in being motivated to make change if we don’t have much of a future to look forward to?
Meri Anai Mills-Muhammad, Jefferson High School Sophomore