Author: Tracey Liu, Deerfield High School '23
I know that as a little kid, you dreamed of a beautiful and perfect life, and you imagined America to be a part of that.
I know that you had dreams and aspirations - dreams where you believed you could reach for the stars.
And I know that you believed America was the perfect place to reach those dreams.
I know that, when you were younger, you weren’t exposed to the horrors that were so carefully covered up.
But now you’ve grown up, and that mask is gone forever. I know you wish for it to be back, for it to cover your eyes once more, to keep you safe again.
I hate to crush your dreams, but some need to be crushed to explore the reality of the situation.
The real truth?
America isn’t beautiful. It isn’t pretty. It crushes your dreams and destroys your ideas of wealth and glory, all the while waving its flag of white privileges in front of your eyes.
All the while oppressing minorities. All the while screaming, we are equal, we are free, yet still silencing those who try to speak up, who try to do the right thing, yet still discriminating against people all because of their skin or their religion, and yet…
Still calling Arabs terrorists, still stereotyping Asians, still being fueled by the words of our president by saying for Mexicans to go back to their country, and continuously telling people that they don’t belong here.
The truth is…
Words hurt. And something you don’t realize how good you had it back then. How innocent your childhood was, with the mask of obliviousness still over your eyes. How you were able to ignore everything that threatened the purity of your existence because your parents shielded you from it.
But now you’ve grown up. And that mask is gone.
You’ll never get it back. Everything that made you, you, as a child is gone. Wiped away by the horrors of the world, wiped away by the people who protest and scream, “Women do not have the right to vote!”, wiped away by the very country you love.
And though the country has changed and become a skeleton of what it once was, I know you can’t forget the fond memories you had of the place.
I know you can’t forget the screams and the laughter of children playing on the playgrounds.
The taste of freedom in the air, the knowledge that you, and others around the world, were making a change.
I know you can’t forget how the tension in the air crackled as you protested with others, your adrenaline pumping as you marched.
And though the country may be damaged, and a little bit bruised maybe, I know you can’t help but remember that the country is beautiful in its own special way.
The way people banded together after a disastrous hurricane.
The way people have started to help combat poverty and illiteracy throughout the country.
I know you can’t forget that.
And that’s why we live in America.
Because even though the country has the ugly side of it, it still has the beautiful parts.
And we believe, as citizens of the United States, that no matter how beautiful, or how ugly the country is, it’s up to us to make a change.
So let’s start now.