June 26, 2020

An Open Letter to America

An Open Letter to America

As a leader, I have to admit when I am wrong and when I have made a mistake. I have made a colossal mistake in light of the events of the last couple of weeks and done so to my embarrassment. As someone who has always prided himself on rational thinking .


As a leader, I have to admit when I am wrong and when I have made a mistake. I have made a colossal mistake in light of the events of the last couple of weeks and done so to my embarrassment. As someone who has always prided himself on rational thinking and finding solutions to problems, I realized in the heat of the moment I did not act in alignment with principles.

I posted an open letter titled Dear Racist White People, and I shot my shot way too low. In fact, so embarrassingly low that I regret even posting it. Perhaps regret is the wrong word. Let me explain.

For mental health resources visit www.thinkunbroken.com

--- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/michaelunbroken/message

Support the Podcast: Become a listed sponsor!

Follow me on Instagram @MichaelUnbroken

Learn more about coaching at www.HealTraumaCoach.com

Get your FREE copy of my #1 Best-Selling Book Think Unbroken: www.TraumaHealingBook.com

Transcript

An Open Letter to America during these protests

As a leader, I have to admit when I am wrong and when I have made a mistake. I have made a colossal mistake in light of the events of the last couple of weeks and done so to my embarrassment. As someone who has always prided himself on rational thinking and finding solutions to problems, I realized in the heat of the moment I did not act in alignment with principles.

I posted an open letter titled Dear Racist White People, and I shot my shot way too low. In fact, so embarrassingly low that I regret even posting it. Perhaps regret is the wrong word. Let me explain.

First, here is that post:

You should truly be embarrassed that you have to be another white person that just doesn't get it. You don't have to be, but you are choosing to be. Why do we kneel? Because we know that's the only way we get attention brought to subjects of vast import. Why do we protest? Because we tried to do it the cavalier way, and it got us nowhere. Why do we riot? Because our voices remain unheard. Why do we scream Black Lives Matter? Because we are being forced into modern indentured servitude, beaten, handcuffed, choked, shot, and murdered at an exponentially higher rate than anyone in the world in the county that our ancestors built through slavery.

If white people were systematically hunted and imprisoned, set up for failure, enslaved for generations, and murdered left and right, you wouldn't be asking the question, "Don't white lives matter?". Open your eyes. You are either a part of the problem or part of the solution. You choose to ask that question instead of facing the uncomfortable truth that a genocide is happening before your eyes, and yet you stand idly by doing nothing because you are not directly impacted. You are nice and safe and cozy in your white world. Do white lives matter? Do Asian? Do Indian? Do Arab? Do Persian? Do Hispanic? Do Latin? Do black? Don't you get it?

This is the most ignorant question that white people can ask. But I'll take blame because it's my fault for not giving you the uncomfortable truth. It's my fault for not letting you have the perspective of generations of this mistreatment. It's my fault for not telling you that what you see in the media is sensationalized to desensitize you from reality. Everyone matters, but not everyone is being hunted. Not everyone is scared to walk down the street or drive their car or sleep in their own bed or play outside or buy groceries.

What you're missing is that your son or daughter doesn't have to worry about being shot by the people who are supposed to protect them. You don't have to worry about the way you move freely about the world because someone might call the police on you for having a BBQ, going to the gym, playing with your friends, or bird watching. You don't have to worry about the portrayal of white people always being shown in a negative light. You don't have to worry about your neighbors raising flags covered in swastikas and confederate symbols. You don't have to worry about people storming down the streets with pitchforks and torches screaming, " White is Right."

You see, dear white people, all you have to do is show up and be embraced by a safe, warm, and welcoming world at your fingertips.

When I walk outside, I have to worry that I never get to come home.

Sincerely,

Michael

I know better than to write something general, and dare I say generic when it comes to race and pointing fingers. I have seen racism in all walks of life, and that is the byproduct of growing up on both sides of the fence. I grew up the biracial son of a drug addict and alcoholic White mother and Black father. Before my grandmother adopted me, we lived in unimaginable circumstances, from HUD housing to shelters to strangers’ homes. I learned from those experiences that racism exists in all forms.

My first experiences with racism came as a young child. I remember being in kindergarten, and the black boys wouldn't let me play with them. Neither did the white boys. I never understood why. As an adult and after many conversations with other biracial friends, I found that we shared many of the same experiences. Perhaps it's the herd mentality or differentiation that scares people? After my experiences in school, I dealt with racism in my own home. My grandmother, a White woman, was one of the most racist people I have known. Long story short, I frequently heard her mutter N*****, jap, spic, and many other varieties of racial epitaphs. Growing up in a home like that was hard and led me to have an identity crisis in my teens. Those same experiences came again in high school, and I found myself having to defend my whiteness to black kids and my blackness to white kids. Feeling like the outcast became a vicious cycle that seemed to follow me for decades.

I have seen racism in all shapes and sizes around the world and back again. I’ve experienced it personally from New York to Indy to Chicago and Portland. It is everywhere, and it is something that exists on all planes of the color line. We like to think that this is a “black and white” issue in America, but it’s not. From the grocery clerks that racially profile their customers, to the woman who changes the side of the street she is walking on when approached by a man of color, to the job recruiter that segregates applicants by their name, to the people who can’t walk into specific neighborhoods because of the color of their skin: racism is everywhere.

The truth that I failed to admit is that racism is an AMERICA PROBLEM. It has been, and it will continue to be because we are taught to be scared of each other. We are taught to fear what we don’t understand and burn down what is different. The idea of “All men are created equal” does work in the context that we are all equally responsible for the current state of OUR world. WE did this to ourselves, and I know that is a hard thing to hear, but when you look at this entire country and this whole system, you find hole after hole of injustice and inequality in the vessel. For years this country has been waiting to explode, and now we are in the midst of cleaning up the mess left by our forefathers.

If we want to create a solution to this problem, it starts with how we treat our neighbor. It starts with how we think about the people that we cross in our daily life. It starts with removing ourselves from the idea that the color of someone’s skin dictates the content of their character. If you saw me, a 6’4” biracial man covered in tattoos walking down the street, would you believe that I have traveled the world, written a book, am an advocate for children's’ rights and adult survivors of child abuse or would you see what you have been programmed to believe about me because of my race and how I present?

You see, friends, the truth is that we all must create change within ourselves first. Yes, we must change the legislature. Yes, we must change the way the political parties divide us. Yes, we must create strict laws against acts of racism. Yes, we must force our police officers to be accountable. Yes, black people and white people need to stop killing each other. Yes, we must stop burning down our communities. Yes, we have to stop tearing down ourselves. There are so many yeses that we have to agree upon, and we must be willing to do what it takes to create change.

Now, let me present you with my updated open letter and the one I should have written:

We should indeed be embarrassed that we just don’t get it. We could understand the world better, but we have decided to keep the blinders over our eyes. It is much easier to hide the cruel dark world than to face the truth that despite the roads that we walk on being laid by generations of those before us, we continue to walk these same roads compliant to a world we do not agree upon. We, as a people, have forgotten that we cannot change what happened yesterday. It is the past. Today, at this moment, we have the ability to create change for tomorrow. We are at a breaking point, and what we have failed to realize is that it isn’t “us vs. them” it is “us vs. us.”

The Preamble of the Constitution states: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The United States of America. And yet for generation after generation, we have stood divided as we inherited the racist beliefs ingrained in us all from birth and allowed them to remain unquestioned. We are victims of a unified fixed mindset.

WE, the people, have not done our part in creating accountability within the collective. We always point a finger. We always place blame on the other guys. We always say, “that’s not my problem.” But it is your problem. The issue with race and equality is your problem and my problem and her problem and their problem. The pain we feel now is all our problem to deal with, and we need to create a path for change. We are the ones who must exercise our right to freedom of speech and assembly to invoke change in a way that is for the benefit of us all. For generations, we have said the system is against us. We don’t effectively make preemptive strikes to mitigate the risk of events like police brutality and corporate corruption that we are experiencing now. We always end up at “we’ve taken this long enough.” We don’t vote, and we don’t picket, we don’t call our representatives or create grassroots efforts. I will be the first to admit that I am just as guilty as you. All of these problems are “us” problems.

Today, as I look out on our country burning itself to the ground, I can’t help but realize that I am just as culpable as the people lighting the match, and so are you. We have sat by idly for so long that the only way our voices are acknowledged is when we burn down the village. Where does that leave us? Have you asked yourself what happens next? The harsh truth is that we are going to end up in the same place we are now. Nothing changes because, in a week, the next culture shock will come along. The next person will be murdered. The next “thing” that we watch from the sidelines will occur, and we’ll be pensively sitting on our phones being “advocates for change” and “freedom fighters” from behind our screens.

I am as upset as I was earlier because I have had to admit that this is my fault. I take the blame. I take responsibility for every time I could have intervened to keep this from happening. I take responsibility for the thousands of murders of people of all races, colors, and creeds by each other and by the police. I could have done something, but it wasn’t my problem until it became my problem.

Why do we kneel together? Because we believe in a cause bigger than ourselves. Why do we protest together? Because we want our voices heard in unison as a collective people who desire change and are willing to fight for it. Why do we scream Black Lives Matter together? Because we all are being forced into modern indentured servitude, beaten, handcuffed, choked, shot, and murdered by the very people that are meant to protect us.

Open your eyes. You are either a part of the problem or part of the solution. You have the ability to show up. If you are going to talk about it, then you need to be about it. I often ask myself, what am I willing to die for? Freedom, equality, and peace. You choose to ask that question instead of facing the uncomfortable truth that a genocide is happening before your eyes, and yet you stand idly by doing nothing because you are not directly impacted. You are nice and safe and cozy in YOUR world.

Do White lives matter? Do Asian? Do Indian? Do Arab? Do Persian? Do Hispanic? Do Latin? Do Black? Don't you get it? When we start coming together, we become stronger. Last night, as I sat looking at my brothers' and sisters' eyes as we marched the streets of Portland, I felt a sense of calm and peace. I wasn’t scared of being tear-gassed or shot. I’ve had the police put guns in my face before. I instead was proud and strong and, in a moment, realized as I lost count of the thousands of people walking in unison that even if we face the military, there are more of us than there are of them. That is not a statement to condone violence. This statement is about solidarity in the face of adversity. No one has ever done anything significant alone. When we face the threat of being ignored, this is the same solidarity that will make our voices echo. Our power is in solidarity, and now the world’s voice echoes ours.

Our sons and daughters shouldn’t have to worry about fighting this fight when they are adults. They shouldn’t have to worry about race being the reason why they didn’t get the job. They shouldn’t worry about the color of their skin, defining who they are as a person. They should be proud that today we stood up in the face of adversity, death, persecution, punishment, and fear to scream at the top of our lungs that we are here and that we will not back down. We can't change yesterday, but we can change tomorrow; for them, for us, and each other.

When I walk outside, I don’t ever again want to worry that I never get to come home.

Freedom is why we protest. Equality is why we scream. Peace is why we kneel.

Sincerely,

Michael

Michael Unbroken

Coach

Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.