Dear Mr. Trump,
I would like to begin by expressing my deepest and sincerest gratitude. Growing up as a black woman in America has not always been easy.
Like many other black Americans, I have had to endure more than my share of intolerance, hatred and racism throughout the years. As painful as those experiences were, it was even more agonizing to have them disregarded as irrelevant and even non-existent. It was heartbreaking to see them spurned as memories of a long-forgotten past.
But my articulation of those memories – as well as my insistence that the so-called past is, in fact, quite present – has been met with the indifferent declaration that we now live in a post-racial society. We have a black president: What more could black people possibly want?
Reverse-racism is the new racism, and anything else is simply an illusion. However, you have changed that.
The rhetoric you so gleefully engage in has given a new light to those voices that were routinely dismissed as ghosts of a departed era. They have provided confirmation for those of us who have maintained that racism is not only alive and well, but also much vaster than this country would like to admit.
Black people who have the audacity to petition for equal justice under the law; to gather in streets and on courthouse steps, demanding to be treated not only as citizens, but as human beings; to force politicians to see us as more than votes to be pandered to during election season are continuously told to be quiet.
When these people have gathered together at your campaign rallies, they have faced not only verbal abuse, but also physical violence and death threats. How can you say that you want to make this country “great” for us when you condone death threats on our lives?
Unless, of course, we are not included in your “great” America, just as we were never included in that so-called "great" America that you so often allude to in your speeches. That's the America that told us we were not complete human beings. It's the one that told us we were unfit to share your bathrooms, food counters and pools. It's the one that still drags little black girls from pool parties and that still removes children who have "too much" melanin from schools.
While most people recoil at the vile and spiteful ignorance that is spewed from the lips of your supporters, I welcome it. This is not because I think it's right. It's not because I take delight in hearing it.
I believe it's honest. And it is in this honesty that I am the most appreciative. I take no refuge in the silence of bigotry. The silence makes it no less of a reality.
I take no solace in those who hide their prejudice in my presence, even though they're being driven by that same attitude to make policies and decisions that affect my very right to exist as a person in this country.
You see, I prefer to know who my enemies are.
I prefer to see them without the cloak of their smiles in my face and their hoods hidden behind their backs. You can't fight what you can't see.
In the absence of these disgusting words remain the quiet actions of their hatred for those who share my color and culture: actions that are displayed among juries and courtroom benches, behind closed doors of Senate conference rooms and even within the walls of the schools we send our own children to.
So, Donald Trump, I thank you for allowing the world to see the real faces of your supporters, and to witness the ugliness and violence that the minority of us have been subjected to for so long (albeit more discreetly in recent years).
I thank you for allowing them to feel safe in displaying their true beliefs, along with their desire to "Make America Great Again." I don't wish to silence them.
In fact, I wish to expose them.
This is so that when I walk into a store, a bank or a police station, I can recognize them. I can look them in the eye and know exactly what they think of me. It is within that honesty that I believe we can truly make America great.
Sincerely, Autumn Joi