Dear Decaturish – We need each otherCover Photo from the Charter for Compassion's 2013 annual report.
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Dear Councilman Sterling,
It seems as though you have rewritten our story. And, I’m not OK with that. Let me fill you in on a few truths you need you to know.
There are people of color who can tell you stories from their lives before, during, and after the Civil Rights movement that would likely make you question your faith in humanity.
There are families that finally breathed a little bit easier in 2015 when DOMA was repealed, but who now live in fear that their rights as a family are in jeopardy. Many LGBT people still live in fear of losing their jobs—or losing their lives, like the forty-nine people who were killed in the massacre at Pulse Night Club this past summer.
There are women who were raped and have to watch their rapists get out of jail in less time than I spent grounded after talking back to my Mom in high school. There are women who deal with sexual harassment and sexual assault every single day and never tell, because people don’t take them seriously. There are women, like me, who have told people about being sexually assaulted and have been laughed at or ignored.
There are immigrants who have experienced violence and discrimination, because people assume that their very being is “illegal.”
There are Muslims who just want the same religious liberties that you and I enjoy, but who live in fear because they have experienced Islamaphobic violence.
You said that no one is going to come for us. But the harsh truth is that they already have—and we’re still standing. We don’t need you to erase our stories and rewrite them through your lens, we need you to listen to our stories and tell us that you will be a part of helping us in the future.
We don’t need you to assure us of some mythical calm water, we need you to offer us a glass of water and ask us if we’re OK—not tell us that we’re OK. We need you to understand that for a long time we have hidden our stories to make people like you feel comfortable. We need you to feel uncomfortable with us for a while.
We need you to understand that our fear and sadness is based on something much deeper than policy. Our fear is based on reality. And, just because you haven’t lived our reality, doesn’t mean that ours doesn’t exist.
We need you to notice when people are coming for us, and then we need you to stop them.
We need you to be kind. To everyone. At all times. Even when being kind looks like standing up against violence and oppression.
I promise to do the same for you. I will listen to you, hear your story and honor your pain and your joy. Because the truth that exists beneath the pain and betrayal that I’m feeling today is that we need each other more than ever.
– Ashley Robinson
Ashley Robinson lives in Decatur, Georgia. She is a nasty woman, a storyteller, and a seminarian. She writes at http://www. clotheslineconfessional.com