Dear Leaders of America,

My name is Jennifer Vollink-Tyler. I am a returning adult student and Michigan State University. At age 45 I had to leave the career I’ve had for 27 years in food service due to physical problems, I decided to do a hard restart on my life. I’m a lower-middle-class white lady that votes in every election. I’m passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless and plan to use my education to become a victim’s rights advocate. This is why a recent subject of study in one of my classes has been particularly interesting to me.

We’ve spent some time studying the violence in Charlottesville from last August. I didn’t realize how many components that there are to the situation. My heart goes out to every one of the victims of this travesty, including the protesters. I won’t defend their actions but they are fellow human beings, likely born into the hateful attitudes that they possess. The numerous wounded, the law enforcement faced with difficult decisions, and especially the loved ones of Heather Heyer, all have my deepest respect and sympathies.

I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and have lived in the area my entire life. We absolutely do have our share of hateful people, but not to the extent of the South. It’s truly eye-opening to see how many people now feel safe waving their hate flags high. I’m old enough to know that those people will likely never change their attitudes, but maybe their kids can begin to understand the need for change. I just searched “institutions for racial diversity in the South” and in 2 seconds found a guide to 99 different organizations that are working to educate people about racial diversity. You can find this link at the bottom of my letter. Perhaps individuals such as yourselves, those with some power and prestige in our nation, could investigate and take part in some of these organizations. Help them meet their goals, maybe even find funds for them.

I was raised in the Midwest in the 70s. My grade school was right next to The Projects, many of my early friends were minorities. They were just other kids to me. My parents believed in diversity and enforced that belief in me. All of these years later I have a 19-year-old son who has also been raised to believe in the power of diversity. Essentially raised to not hate. The world has been built on a foundation of hate. Wars and battles because one group of human beings thinks that they are superior to the other. I will sound like a true hippie now but there’s a song that I love about this very thing, how the history of the world has been basically one group hating another. The pivotal point of the song is these words: “or you could Love.” It’s simple yet incredibly complicated. Yes I’m an idealist but real change starts at the bottom. People caring about one another and teaching their children to do the same. This is the sort of change that I believe in, in my son I’ve already seen it.

Thank you for your time.


Jennifer Vollink-Tyler

Ionia. MI

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