An open letter to my ignorant relative and perhaps yours too
My Dear Big Brother,
We haven’t spoken for years, but I still see you.
I see your right-wing social media posts. I see your narrow-minded exploitation of our Italian grandparents’ immigration, saying they entered the United States the right way. I see you thumbing your nose at brown-skinned families seeking a better life for their children. I see your blatant disregard for the fact that most are trying to escape tyranny, domestic and gang violence. Your ancestors sailed across the Atlantic to seek better opportunities and add to, as you call it, ‘our melting pot,’ but you view people seeking asylum as criminals. I see your racism and your fear when you claim our Mexican and Central American neighbors are entering the US to “take what they can get from the pockets of those who are doing it the right way.” And your silence about brown babies locked in cages speaks volumes about your lack of empathy, dear brother.
I see you sitting in your Garage Mahal in a predominantly white, well-off, and privileged community denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement. I see it as your belief that Black people are still only entitled to 3/5 of the equality that you enjoy. I see you every time I hand a homeless person some change for a cup of coffee on my way to work. I see you when I step over someone lying on the sidewalk as I make my way to the bus stop, sometimes wondering if they’re even alive. I see you talking about the BLM protests in my city, saying, “The Governor of Seattle should have troops in there cracking heads.” I see you when peaceful protesters are tear-gassed on the streets of my city, knowing that your life of entitlement is a direct result of the Sons of Liberty protesting English tyranny in Boston, where we were both raised. But to you, the police are not the enemy because they are there to protect well-off white men like you. If you had ever lived as a person of color in an inner-city you might see them as an enemy to be feared and as likely to kill your children as to defend them.
I see when you comment about Colin Kaepernick, saying he’s “just looking for something to be offended by,” and I am astounded by your lack of understanding and unwillingness to be introspective. You, who had your career bestowed upon you by our father. You with the cushy job, the company cars, and the paid getaways to your mountainous Xanadu, where you flaunt your “happy place” yet are so defensive about your privilege that you go to extremes to disparage a black man’s peaceful protest.
I see your social media tantrums about your beloved ‘Washington Redskins’ deciding to change their name. I see your inability to, at the very least, compromise and accept that our way of life was built on the backs of Native Americans and African-Americans. I see you marginalizing and demonizing BIPOC as I attend meetings with my colleagues of color, listening either to their passion about achieving systemic equality in their communities or their devastating silence because their feelings are too painful to express. I see you when I am ashamed of the fact that in my lifetime, I will always have more privilege than them because of the color of my skin.
I see you, big brother. I see you every time you praise the current administration run by a sexual predator who brags about committing heinous acts of violence against women. I see your sexism when you target Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and call her an “idiot” or call Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” or describe your hatred for strong, intelligent women like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. Yet you stay silent about blatant misogyny and violence perpetrated on women by your president. I see you because of my own experience with interpersonal violence and your subsequent outrage about my post-traumatic behavior rather than the man who inflicted harm on me.
I see you, my dear big brother. And I am taking this opportunity to express the words you once said directly to me, “All I can hope for is that you look in the mirror and awaken to the reality that you need help. Until then, I need to do what’s best for me, and my family, and keep you at arm’s length.”