The world is a crazy place right now and unfortunately, it may feel like you're at the center of it all. When individuals in leadership positions have opened up the flood gates of hate and fear towards the "other", it grabs your attention, except that in this case the "other" happens to be you. You would never show it, but I know you're afraid, not quite grasping why those around you refuse to see you. The real you! Not the person they believe you are, the human being that you actually are - who loves and laughs and feels; not all that different from those who judge you. You are a person regardless of age, race or creed yet you are spoken about as if you were an anomaly, and you're rejected in sometimes very subtle ways - ways that you are all too familiar with. You live with those invisible burdens that keep you in an emotional prison of self-hate and degradation, not understanding that those shackles could be removed with just a simple change in perspective that does not depend on how others view you. That thirst for a kind word and a message of acceptance that would make you feel like you too, have a place in this nation that you love.
I see the immense weight you carry on your shoulders every day with the pressures that life has thrown at you. The idea that your "normal" means, balancing a world that has dealt you a tough hand, while still struggling through a teenager's reality. You walk a fine line, juggling your (and your family's) educational goals, understanding the opportunity it provides while at the same time looking into the eyes of your parents, acknowledging their trials and sacrifice and feeling the deep sense of guilt for not doing your part to help. A guilt that will make you unfairly decide between your future and theirs, even though those two crossroads were never intentionally placed before you and was never meant to be a choice.
I see you and I know the feelings of shame when others criticize you without really knowing the pain behind your eyes. I know the anger that derives from those who say you do not belong and that your existence is insignificant to the common thread that makes us all connected as Americans and as human beings. I see you and I know you because at one time in my life I was you. I am sorry that you are forced to endure all that you do, but at the same time, I know that you have great potential to be free.
Free to be the genuine spirit, that resonates the persistent efforts of all those who came before you. You are the reflection of their legacy and the seed of cultivated dreams from years passed. The shoulders of your ancestors, which served as the steps to help you climb over the obstacles in your way, understanding that your victory, would be mutually theirs as well. When I look into your eyes, I see the beauty and potential of the American dream. I see the hope of a continued presence of success, beyond all doubt and against all odds.
I see the person you are and the person you want to be and the certainty that they are one in the same. You are loved and cherished and treasured for all that you do and for just being you and if you never get a moment to feel that this nation truly embraces your being, then remember these words I write to you today. Because as much as you may notice that hate and anger towards you, I need you to remember that I once was you and within that truth I want you to see how far and limitless the scopes of our dreams can be. You can make it out of this darkness by not allowing other's opinions to overcome your heart. You can triumph above the labels, if for no other reason than to prove them wrong and when the day comes when you can look them in the eyes and show them the real greatness of America, you will do so with your head held high and a soaring heart filled with pride.
In the meantime, I will stand up for your very essence and I will speak as loudly as I can in your defense to all those who have counted you out. That will be my promise to you because when I look into your eyes, I see myself. When I hear your voices, I can hear mine and when I speak your truth, I firmly believe that I am reaffirming my own. I will say it again - you are loved, you are cherished and you are treasured. Let no one pierce your soul or fracture your dreams with the ugliness of any other thought. You are what makes America beautiful and regardless of what others believe or want to say about you, you are what makes America already GREAT!