Rapper T.I. Harris wrote an open letter to Donald Trump and shared it with Rolling Stone magazine. He shared his thoughts about prejudice, bias, questioning the potential sides of “Us vs. You” and questioning Trump’s sincerity and accountability.
As I share my thoughts, I want to first say that it’s easy to allow one’s frustration and angst to lead to reckless and harmful rhetoric that can cause irreparable damage. With that said, I want to be responsible, honest and respectful, but in no way apologetic about the rage and resentment that many of US have been suppressing for far too long. In turn, I hope that we can be equally as honest about the prejudice, bias and narrow-mindedness that many of US have felt our nation has been disguising and denying for far too long.
As you transition into your role as the President of the United States, you will undoubtedly be one of the most watched people in the history of the world. So, I can’t help but ask in the midst of our nation’s calamity and discord:
What do you want US to see?
Maybe I should take the time to share what many of US would like you to see. Should it ever at times seem as though WE are against YOU, I assure you it’s a result of YOU defining yourself as the representative for those who are and who always have been against US. The deck has always been stacked against US in this country. With every generation there has been strategic steps taken to oppress, imprison and control US. All we’ve ever wanted was equality and empathy as the historically disenfranchised citizens that we are, in a nation that we’ve contributed to just as much as anyone else who calls America their home.
We’ve helped to mold the arts and culture of this country, as well as help build, create and contribute to its greatness, in spite of it all. From an economic perspective, our community’s buying power is THE strongest of all consumers. Yet we’re shown repeatedly that our lives don’t matter as much as our dollars, let alone as that of a person of a different race or skin color. These basic human rights of freedom and equality are ones that EVERY RELIGIOUS BOOK of reference says is a GOD-GIVEN right that should be fought for and defended with one’s life.
We do so much as take a knee during the national anthem and it’s looked upon as Un-American. Yet and still, as many of US continue to live in life-threatening, unspeakable conditions with poisonous water systems, failing schools, broken criminal justice systems, lack of decent healthcare and affordable housing, all while scraping for a basic living wage many of US are still fighting to find our way.
I’m sharing with you some of the things that separate US in hopes of creating healthy dialogue that may hopefully unite US and mend a gaping wound that has gone unattended for generations.
Now, I will be the first to admit and cannot deny that many of US have issues we have not dealt with or addressed. Many of US have been perpetrators of darkness and sometimes destruction. There is no excuse for such actions, but there may be an explanation. When one has been conditioned to have no sense of self and everything has been given to him by his oppressor, from religion to lineage to his name, that leaves a person in imminent darkness leaving them to only be able to offer imminent darkness. So when we speak of such darkness, we cannot and must not forget the source of that darkness.
One of the most prolific figures of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently paraphrased Victor Hugo when asked about the turmoil and state of the Black community. He shared,
“Where there is darkness, crimes will be committed. The guilty one is not merely he who commits the crime but he who caused the darkness.”
I can’t help but ask on behalf of all of US … how do we address and hold accountable those who create, allow and prolong the darkness?
See, I don’t want to disengage from a democracy that I understand many of US would die for. Nor do I want to engage in a democracy where all of US who are a part of it, are not allowed to live with the same basic promise, protections and principles of freedom, equality and justice for all.
I’m now past bitter and on my way to better. Trying to become a better me so that I can better understand how to see a better you and be better for US. If we all just start there, then I believe we can truly make collective progress.
As we continue to go on together as a nation, I apologize in advance for the friction and hostility that inevitably comes with US feeling years of pain, neglect, resentment and not being heard. I am hopeful that we will not go and repeat the mistakes of the past. I am hopeful that we will all work to right our wrongs and become better men and women and a better nation.
In closing, I can’t help but ask one final question man to man. A simple yet profound question recently asked of me.
“When the stage is dark and the lights and cameras are off … Who are you? And more importantly, who do you want to be?”
Just a thought to ponder as your passage to the White House begins.