Dear Leaders of America,
My name is Rachel Smeenge, I am a 4th year at Michigan State University. I am currently majoring in Zoology with the hopes of attending veterinary school. For my LGBTQ+ Studies course, I was assigned to research about the events in Charlottesville in August. Researching this issue was eye opening for many reasons. I am very much so an individual that dislikes conflict and believes that everyone should be equally treated and thought of. However, that is unlike a good portion of the America’s population, as we can see in events like those that occurred in Charlottesville. This is not to say that either group wanted violence, but that is what occurred, and it happened with both sides. Aside from getting a rounder, bigger picture of the events that occurred, I also solidified the stereotypical “don’t believe everything you hear”. As we are all pretty aware of, this cyber generation makes it even easier for words and thoughts to be twisted and have individuals not understand the full story because they only listen to one or two sources, which typically share similar views. Sadly, I am sometimes in that population of individuals. Researching this topic and actually watching President Trump’s address allowed me to see how twisted some of his comments were made into. It reminded me that it is important to understand and be up to date with events and issues occurring nationally and internationally and to ensure that I’m getting the bigger picture and not just a small blip of the story with bias thrown into it.
I grew up in a small town southeast of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was, and still is, a very Catholic and Republican based town where everyone knew each other. In high school, I worked my ass off to do great in school, have extracurricular activities, volunteering, employment, and make great connections to ensure that I would get into the school of my dreams and eventually pursue my passion in veterinary medicine. I was rather sheltered in the politics side of the world until I took AP Government, where I had a wonderful teacher that not only had a great passion for teaching students, but encouraged us all to be more active in politics. Though I have many memories from my teenage years, a few stick out most when I think about my experience growing up in America. I remember working my first job at a retail store when gas prices were sky-high and I wasn’t even making enough money at my job to drive to it. My parents often had to loan me small amounts of money to make it to my next paycheck. I hated asking them for the money, but I needed the experience to help me get other jobs and experiences. I remember my mom being stressed out about money after her and my father divorced and she became a single parent of two. She had medical problems with her leg twice while being a single parent, making it difficult to go to her job to work enough hours to pay for our residence and meals. Like always, my mother made it happen. I remember Barack Obama being elected for the second time and thinking that I had faith in what this man was going to do and how I couldn’t wait to have the honor to vote for a great leader like him. As a white, heterosexual female, growing up as a teenager in a small, Catholic and Republican town was easy, especially compared to what other teenagers go through. I was and still am a very privileged and sheltered individual and it is my duty with the privilege that I have to stand up for what is right and for others that don’t have the voice that I do, because I am a white, heterosexual female.
Now I know not every member of our elected leaders feels this way, but rather than calling out and being derogatory towards NFL players for kneelings during the national anthem, there are quite a few issues that I think should be of higher priority. First of all, with the increase in hurricanes, rock slides, and earthquakes, it is of high priority that we are putting in great amounts of effort getting relief to the Americans in U.S. Territories affected by the hurricanes. I know this is a large task and that a good amount of aid is being set or is already present, but it is of utmost importance that aid is provided and stat! It is also highly important that we get more relief to Texas as the coast is still attempting to recover from hurricane Harvey. Next, once our natural disaster clean-up starts to roll, it is important that our leaders to work on issues that help Americans feel safer. This is also a large task, but what I mean by help Americans feel safer is finding a way that helps minorities feel like they are able to go somewhere and not worry about being arrested because of their race or be belittled because of their sexuality or gender identity. There are lots of groups and organizations that are working towards this task, but there needs to be more endorsements and help. It is important that the future leaders of this country are raised in a country with higher morals, not one that has a POTUS that can’t call out white supremacy and calls NFL players “sons of bitches”, and the countless other politically incorrect and inappropriate things that have been said. As role models, it is important for our leaders to prioritize being actual role models and actually making America “Great Again”. Maybe this time by actually moving forward and becoming more accepting.
There are many solutions to the issues that are occurring in America these days and it takes a group to come up with good solutions. I’m assuming this is why group-work is so heavily used in high school and college. It is important that American leaders work together for the issues that we are having, especially with the race, religion, gender, etc. issues that are causing bigotry, violence, and hatred within our country. There is no right or wrong way for this; as we all know, the world is no longer seen as black and white. It is full of diversity and that is exactly how issues need to be approached: with consideration for all and by using the issues and consideration that effect everyone to create the best solution that affect everyone the least. We may just get to solutions that starts to positively impact everyone, even if it’s just a little. Small victories are still victories.
I hope that America in the future will not be the way that it is now. At 21 years old, I am disgraced by the way America treats each other and the way that other countries see us. As the most powerful nation in the world, we are eating shit right now. We are looked down upon and shamed at with a lot of the issues that are occurring. We have a leader that encourages disgraceful acts and it is impacting people of all ages and how they see each other. My wish for future America is for more acceptance and understanding. I hope that someday, people will believe in science, again, not because they fully understand it, but because they don’t disregard it just because they don’t understand it. I hope that we embrace each other and encourage each other and the advancement of the human race, and that events like Charlottesville, Miami, Ferguson, Baltimore, etc. are events of the past and not daily news like they are today. I hope that one day, America will actually be great again.