Dear Ma and Pa,
I must go.
The past six months have been life-changing.
For instance, I have read over six self-empowerment books. I have implemented plant-based meals into my diet. I have participated in class discussions more than before. I have been recruited to intern for Public Inc., an investment app. And I have created a stellar LinkedIn profile.
All while you two have increased your screen time. And you have taken in higher servings of sugar, expanded your pessimistic viewpoints, and have grown distant from the world.
I feel like an outlier when I exit my room and join you all at the dining table. Pa, you justify your racist remarks with illogical arguments while Ma stays silent until you abruptly change the topic. You two have reinforced the power of silence.
During the weekends, we all gather together to enjoy Ma’s delicious meals. I have the most incredible honor as I savor the recipes that have been passed on by generations, one bite at a time. However, recently, I have inhaled my food to escape the racist and sexist remarks exhaled by one of you two. I held my breath. I tilted my head down. And I continued to eat.
I unconsciously joined the oppressor’s side through my silence.
I have stood up from my seat to force you two to accept your racist demeanors. I have raised my voice to explain that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities. I have eaten my food at an empty table to avoid any family feud.
Ma. Pa. I am antiracist.
While I honor and respect your viewpoints, I will not assimilate into racist thoughts you two have deemed acceptable.
I am an antiracist because I understand that racist policies have robbed nonwhites’ full political and economic power.
Ma. Pa. I choose growth over complacency.
My highest purpose is to live a life of service. I will continue to generate conversations around civil injustices outside the borders of our dining room. I will confront individuals who share the same ideologies and knowledge as you two. Under the guidance of extraordinary writers, activists, and civil rights leaders, such as Ibram X. Kendi, Colsen Whitehead, and James Baldwin, I will empower my community to choose growth over complacency.
Ma. Pa. Thank you.
Thank you for providing me a glimpse of the real world. Thank you for listening to my blunt statements. Thank you for never silencing me despite the fear and uncertainty my initiatives have created.
Thank you. Now, I must go.
(Editor’s note: After discussion between this Menlo student writer and the Menlo Oak Press editor, the student decided to publish this letter anonymously)