Dear Mr. President,
Do you know what it’s like to walk in a room and understand that you are not the norm? Do you know what it’s like to be the only woman? The only person of color? And the only person under the age of 30 in a conference room?
Mr.President, has a senior leader ever addressed you continuously and mixed you up as the other Asian woman in a meeting? Have you been questioned by your co-workers and surrounding management why your last name is Cortes?
Mr. President, do you you understand what it means to be uncomfortable in your own skin? Do you understand the struggles and the beauty of having two cultures? Or speaking another language at home?
Mr. President, do you understand your privilege? Do you understand that money is a privilege? Being a man is a privilege? Being white is privilege? Having no prior political experience and being elected the president of this country is a privilege?
Mr. President, did you know my grandfather fought for this country? He was recruited by the American Military during World War 2. Did you know he was segregated? Did you know he knew that the whites and the people of color had unequal amounts of food? So he had to scheme to break into the white rations of food in the middle of the night to survive the war?
Mr. President, do you know what its like to live in a world that sees you for your differences, whether they say so or not? Do you know what it means to have your religion attacked? Not only by extremist, but also threatened by the own country you are proud to live in?
Mr. President, I may not be Muslim, I may not have been segregated, but I have a basic understanding of privilege and oppression. Mr. President, I may not understand what it means to come from money or what it means to be white. But I do understand that with privilege comes power, and power comes influence, and influence can be just or unjust.
Mr. President, do you understand that you have the influence to make laws that don’t attack people for their religion? Or that you have the influence to make laws that protect our environment? Or that you have the influence to make women’s rights fundamental rights? And you have the influence to create a conversation instead of end in a social media ban?
Mr. President, in the fragile world we live in today, you have the power to lead with empathy, the privilege to lead with humanity, and the influence to make the unjust just.
Mr. President, will you listen to the American people? Or will you perpetuate another cycle of oppression, segregation, and exclusion?
Mr. President, will you open your mind and your heart to the people who are not the norm? The people who must defend their religions? The people who are not like you?
Mr. President, what type of person will you choose to be in your time in power?