Dear Leaders of America,
My name is Leo Norling. I am a senior at MSU, majoring in psychology. I also have minors in women and gender studies and leadership of organizations. While looking at what happened in Charlottesville, there are definite issues that we must attend to in our country. Charlottesville demonstrated racism is still live and well in our country, and people are taking things into their own hands, using violence. Looking into specifically what President Trump has said about the matter, he never explicitly called out white nationalists, causing a lot of debate. The neo-Nazi website even thanked him for the support by not condemning them specifically.
Growing up as a teenager in America, I have been very privileged. I have never been scared for my life or been put in a serious situation. I am a minority and have experienced some racism, but nothing with outright violence. The area that I grew up in was not necessarily diverse but was accepting and I felt safe.
However, I was in a middle-class area in a suburb of Chicago. So, I do recognize my situation is not the average and did not happen everywhere. There is a lot more violence and bigotry in the areas around me; depending where I went, I knew where to be aware of my identities and how to present myself. With this said, I think it is disappointing that I must adjust who I am depending on where I am. I should not have to fear my life for a characteristic of myself not being seen as acceptable.
Moving forward, I propose to our elected leaders today that acceptance should be a priority. This may be a loaded topic, but it is important to have this acceptance to form unity and a great nation. With acceptance, I can be who I am meant to be without having to worry about hate. With acceptance, I can be an out transman without fearing my life. With acceptance, having a family, getting a job, find love, using bathrooms, and any other rights people take for granted, will not be difficult to come by.
Again, this seems like a general and bold issue to prioritize. However, there are simple initial steps that can be taken. One, we must stop preaching hate. During the whole campaign of Trump, racism was a part of it. He would put down minorities left and right. Even now, there has been a muslim ban promoted and division between Mexico and America with a giant wall. This is just the opposite of what the country needs. In events of Charlottesville, I truly think groups thought it was okay, even fulfilling what Trump wanted (see https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-protest-white-nationalist.html?mcubz=0). The elected leaders, in particularly our highest elected leader, the president, is doing the opposite of what the country needs. To gain acceptance, leaders must demonstrate it. If people are looking towards our leaders, and they are almost encouraging racism, things will only get worse.
I hope one day in America, people can actually stand united. People can see no matter where one is from, who they are now, and what they may become, we are all still Americans. There is this divide still within the country of “us” vs. “them” or “minorities” vs. “privileged”. I hope one day people can check their privilege. Not in an attacking way, but so we can learn from each other. If we start to think more collectively than individually, then maybe acceptance can follow and we can have a country that supports everyone, where no one is in fear for being who they are.