Back in late February 2023, I had spent nearly all Black History Month fixated on the life, history, and contributions of Booker T. Washington. I had learned about him briefly during U.S. History in high school but taking the time to dig into his experiences and accomplishments in life was incredibly enriching. It highlighted just how much one man can impact and change in his lifetime, let alone his local community. Especially when the odds are skewed heavily against your favor. It was around this time I began to look down upon myself. 

While I pontificated about the way the world was, what had I done to change it? What have I done to contribute? Upon what achievements do I deserve my displeasure? What great towns and cities did I help build that were plucked from my community and left in shambles and disarray as was done to Booker T. Washington? It was then I realized, I had no business to be complaining. Especially, when I had not taken the time to participate or even understand ways in which others were attempting to make change around me. All I could see was how specific others had failed or were currently failing and found a way to internalize this frustration as a direct attack on my abilities, my capacity, to make change. This is not healthy but nor was I alone in this sentiment. I’ll go out on a limb and say many who might be reading this, had felt or may currently feel this way now. 

  • That there are innumerable oppositions against them that prevent something better from taking hold.
  • That change is a thing of the past and we live in a society that’s incapable of mobilizing towards something truer than what we know. 
  • That the many brave men and women who were the catalyst for these historical moments are like an extinct breed that can never be brought back to life.
  • That sentiment is poorly placed and has been constructed purposely to make you feel the way that you had or currently do. I’m writing this today to let you know that there are still brave men and women. 
  • That change is not a thing of the past, for our present is ever-changing and our future is not something that can be foreseen or predestined. That we are the catalysts for change.

Then I heard Bobby Kennedy speak, announcing his Independent candidacy in October. I must have watched his Independence short film over a hundred times since then. There’s never been a presidential candidate in my 24 years of life about whom I said to myself, “That’s the one, he’s going to win.” I’d spend way too much time on how he has the best chance out of the partisan picks. What I can share with you, however, is something I wrote long before I discovered RFK Jr., for the first time, back in January of this year. This was not written for his candidacy, that may be apparent, but I feel now is the best time for me to try to make this writing public. 

I had given myself the prompt:

“If I had an opportunity to be heard by all Americans, what would I say to them?”

What follows is what I came up with.


America, Be Still

Listen to the cries of your people.

Within our borders, there are those who are living in fear.

Fear of the divisions that plague our hearts and minds,

by proxy, our institutions of law and education.

Fear for our children and the future generations.

What America might we see in the years to come?

Many are uncertain, though some will choose to ignore it.

Allowing the disorder of our very people to leave them callous or even resentful. 

Encumbered by the minutiae and chaos of day-to-day living, they see no hope.

This country suffers deep, deep, wounds.

Wounds that have been felt since this great nation was founded.

It’s true, this country has its history of greatness, 

but like all great nations, there are those who had toiled and endured.

* * * * * * *

Indentured servants, while roughly half earned their rewards,

many indentured servants, often English and Irish, 

would not reap the fruits of their labor. 

To provide income for their families,

who suffered classism in feudal societies and

could never hope to rise the economic ladder,

many would subsequently perish.

* * * * * * *

Ancestors of slaves, whether it be the chattel slavery of pre-post-civil war,

or even the Jim Crow laws of the post-Reconstruction era.

In addition to physical threats of violence and mob justice via lynchings,

non-whites were forced to attend separate institutions,

use segregated facilities and utilities, 

such as theater sections, bathrooms, and drinking fountains, 

live in communities, separate and at a distance from whites.

But those ancestors of slaves were not convinced, 

of the conceptions of the day,

some chose to take a stand.

They didn’t want to start a fight, a riot, a war,

They wanted peace, acceptance, and equal opportunity.

Not just for themselves, but for their children, their communities,

and the future generations that were to come.

* * * * * * *

Immigrants, who were ostracized and were often made outcasts upon their arrival,

They were told of opportunity in America back home,

They believed they could pursue our rite of passage,

we call it “The American Dream.”

Where they should have been met with open arms and equal opportunity,

they were instead greeted, by many, who were in fierce opposition, and would resort,

to derisive means to keep immigrants at a distance from those born of this nation.

As a result, they would be forced to build their own communities and neighborhoods,

a small pocket of love from home in a strange country where some saw them as lesser.

Those immigrants, ancestors of slaves, even the indigenous peoples, 

there was love for their families, their communities, and believed, 

that if they worked hard enough, they could afford to educate their children.

Their children wouldn’t have to be dishwashers and bricklayers 

but could be business owners, or even entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers. 

These were people whose countries and homes were not fit to ensure their survival. 

They came here to provide a better future for themselves and their families.

This is a truly noble and American pursuit.

* * * * * * *

There are those who think they know of the bleak and dark parts of our history.

Those who become obsessed, will eventually become consumed by darkness.

These individuals, rather than seeing the good parts of our history,

the parts that strived to make change and improve the American way of life,

those parts do not make up for the horrors they subject to their minds.

There are those who feel a personal connection to those moments of our Nation’s weakness.

They will see themselves and try to empathize with the positions

of those made victims of inequality and injustice,

but when not careful, their hearts are consumed by hate,

and their minds filled with anti-American sentiments.

This isn’t a subject that specifically relates to white or black, 

straight or gay, secular or spiritual, but throughout history,

we have seen all walks of life be put down,

under the scrutiny of its people(s).

* * * * * * *

With all this frustration and anger that we as a Nation harbor today,

I ask you, America, be still. 

If you know of no Creator, be still and relinquish all thoughts from your mind.

Allow your egos to be shed and allow the love that’s within you to take hold.

We will not defeat division through infighting and dogma, but through love and unity.

One day, I believe, America will stand united, of all races, all faiths, and class.

We will stand united and uphold the truths that our founding fathers wrote,

we will keep all injustices accountable, and all voices 

will be given equal opportunities to be heard.

None of this can happen unless we allow ourselves to heal. 

From a member of Gen Z who is tired of waiting on others to change.


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