An Open Letter to my Family and Friends

Dearest family and friends;

I have been processing my thoughts around this election and current state of the country…  I am not going to tell you who and what you should vote for, as I know from the results there are more than half of the country (including some of my own family and friends) remained complacent or had been part of a silent majority.  I am not here to educate you, I am not here to represent some marginalized group, and I am not here to judge you on your decision.

I only ask that you, as my circle, hear me out.  In return, I promise now that if you need someone to hear you out, you should know I am hear for ya.

This election has not tested my friendships, as I know we all have a right to our opinion.  This president doesn’t scare me, but the hate and destruction that rolls in with him is terrifying.  The recent events has been just the straw that is breaking the camel’s back (however, not broken yet).  You see, I already am angry with so many things and I am scared for my daughter.

I can only speak to my own thoughts, and hope that my own small community of the world can better understand.  My own circle has also tried to discredit my voice, as if moving to the Bay Area has swayed who I am or my own experiences.  Do not call me a Bay Area hippie, or somehow imply that California has made me political.  Let me be clear, to discount my thoughts because I moved to a more liberal place lets me know that you have no idea who I am as a person.

Family and friends who believe me to be a new tree-hugger, don’t know that my family has traveled to lots of National Parks and spent lots of time enjoying the outdoors.  I worry about climate change and drilling because one day I’d like to take Evie to all of them.

As a beautiful shade of brown, I learned early on that racism is everywhere.  I had my first fist fight when I was 15 because a white girl called me a “chink”.  I’ve lived with the fact that I could be (and have been) pulled over for being brown, or having minority friends.  Although I have become used to it, even numb to it sometimes, it does not make it right.  Most of us have close family members who immigrated here for us to have a better life, and they endured so much more than us and have also tried in all their power to protect us from it. I come across other Filipino American friends and family, who have never felt this racism.  I am surprised and happy for them, but I think it’s important for them to know some of white-america will never see me (or us) as an equal… no matter how much papaya soap you use to lighten your skin, you are not white.

That being said, we are still not African Americans, who have had it much worse than us through American history.  It is not my job to tell my white friends that they need to educate the racist white-america.  Also, not my job to tell my black friends that they need to stop being angry.  On-going, systematic racism is destructive and we need to all come together to recognize that it is there.  There is real discrimination in this world, and it is life threatening, but it won’t end until more people can stand up to it.  It’s the silent complacency that destroys us, and it needs to be pointed out.

I know racists come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  We all have a family member or friend who as harmful views and have excused them and let them ramble on.  I have been avoiding some of those fights, just because they are family or friends, and I am going to try harder not to avoid it.

I stand with Black Lives Matter, and will teach my daughter so she can also identify injustices and know she doesn’t need to be part of the problem.  Some family and friends do not agree with me.  I am not saying that I don’t care for police lives, but they can take that suit off at any time.  Saying that other lives matter or don’t matter isn’t the issue at hand.  You are taking the attention away from the problem by doing this, and have become an obstruction.

Both Hillary and Trump were not my first choice.  I understand the frustration of being placed between a rock and a hard place, and feeling like the media is pushing you to vote one way or another.  That doesn’t excuse you from not voting.  We have other relatives or know someone who have fought in wars and died to protect our right to vote, and we owe it to them to do our part.  I have, in previous elections, not voted because of a feeling like my vote didn’t matter or not liking either candidate enough to vote.  This year was different, I knew I needed to feel like I did something, even if it ultimately fell back to the electoral college (which is also up to us to change).

I am mad at the Democrats for pushing Hillary at us and filling us with the promise of a first female president.  As a woman, it’s important to me that I see a female president in my lifetime, but let’s face it, history has not been kind to females either.  We still struggle to have equal pay, to get equal opportunity, and even struggle to have our attackers and rapists prosecuted.  My daughter needs to believe she can be whatever she wants to be and I can only tell her that with this little bit of doubt that our system may fail her too.

All of those females in my circle, we need to do better for her.

I would like to believe that all the women who voted for Trump or were shown at the rallies, didn’t actually want to vote that way.  I know women in my own circle who’s politics have changed based on a significant other, and I’m asking you to stop doing that.  You have your own brain for a reason.

America was never great, but we have a system in place where we have the opportunity to change it.  I’m not going to hold your hand and show you how to do it, I’d still like to believe that if you are in my circle and care about me or my family you will find a way to be part of a solution.

We are all human in the end, and we all need to recognize that there are more constructive ways to deal with this election.  It doesn’t include posting false Facebook articles or memes to show your stance on the topic, because not everyone agrees with you.  It’s not coming down on those who choose to fight differently than you, or being an obstruction to their fight. Get informed, ignorance is not an excuse anymore.

This is the only life I have here, and this is how I choose to live it.  I do not need your acceptance or your encouragement.  I am here to say my peace and listen to anyone who wants to talk.  You see, that’s how we can move forward, that’s the only way we can as a community progress.  The blame game and name calling only goes so far.

It’s long overdue to engage in a little conversation and support each other. Activate for change or get out of the way.  I am going to hold onto this anger and this fear, and hope you can try to understand where I’m coming from.  We may not have the same experiences, or the same views, but a little understanding goes a long way.

As the holidays rolls around the corner, are you prepared to have those discussions within your circle?  I am still struggling to find words, but I will try.  As we watch the selections of the cabinet being discussed, are you ready to risk your freedoms to love who you want and believe what you want.  Shall we just keep pointing fingers at republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives, millennials, racists, politicians… (insert another group name here)?  I’m not alone when I say that I’m tired of fighting my own friends and family for my beliefs, and I’m going to need to focus that energy on a larger picture, for the sake of my daughter.

My daughter deserves more from you, my community, and I hope you are willing to step it up.

With all the love and support I can give right now, your friend, Jamie

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Featured images: with friends at Sunday’s peaceful protest “Hands Around Lake Merritt”.  Although criticized, it was a great moment to come together and show solidarity within our community.  I saw lots of families there; some angry, some grieving, some actively protesting different things.  It didn’t matter why you came, but it was a shared space for everyone, and it was helpful to see, and promising to be a part of.  I still walk the lake everyday, and see the chalk hearts where we stood, and read all the messages written around the lake, from all backgrounds and all different points of view, and it gives me a little hope that we can work together for the future.

 

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