America: Where Do We Go From Here?

An open letter to America, as it is today.

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Milan Ford, Contributer

America,

Where do we go from here? That is a serious question I have for you. You seem to be going through changes that cause me to question who you really are and what you really stand for. Even in my short lifetime, I’ve seen you change. You’ve change so much, I can hardly recognize you anymore. I’ve heard so many stories about your past, and to your credit, you have come so far. Far enough for me to believe that this was a place for me to achieve my greatest potential, and I still do believe that. 

But America, why do you feel so different lately? Just 5 years ago it seemed you were filled with enthusiasm and promise. You chanted things like, “Change we can believe in!”, “Hope!”, “Forward!”, and “Yes, we can!” It made me feel like I was in a place where I mattered. Everything about me: who I am, my thoughts and opinions, and, most importantly, my voice. 

This all seems to have been replaced with fear and separation, and a thought that you need to be “made great again”. For me, it’s all confusing. It feels like being in a close friendship with someone that has all of the same interests, but suddenly your friend decides she no longer likes the same things you do. There might still be a relationship, but it’s weird now. So… what happens now?

America, do you still believe in freedom and equality? Many of my ancestors died to get us to this point. In fact, they are the reasons I am able to dream as big as I do. They are the reasons we have the 13th Amendment in the US Constitution, abolishing slavery, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But lately, all of the questions around voting rights, the rights of women, members of the LBGTQ+ community, immigrants and others, feel like equality for some is not as important as it is for others. 

So America, where do we go from here? If I and my generation have any say about where we end up, you are going to need to look yourself in the mirror and face some tough realities. Because here is where I think we go from here:

  • Equality for all: True equality, meaning economic, social, and political. Treating all humans equally in whatever shape, form, color, and gender.
  • Freedom for all: To express yourself freely without fear of retaliation or ridicule. To be able to share your religion, culture, or background openly, without concern for being arrested or deported.
  • A Right to Protest: Sometimes, this is the only voice that people have to express what they feel. Their voices should not be silenced, stopped, or interfered with.
  • A right to vote: And to vote in a way that is convenient and easy for people to have their say in our democracy.

The truth is, you are familiar with all of these things, but as you go through the process of finding yourself again, I ask that you not lose sight of how far you have come. You are the only hope for many of us and we look to you for safety and reassurance. As you think about where you go from here, know that my generation will be depending on you to make the right choices.