I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 shortly after turning 18 in October the same year. I was born and raised in a predominantly Republican family and community. I learned racial slurs when I was in elementary school, and I will not sit here in my house or on the internet and say I've never said those words. I have. There are no words to express my remorse for doing so.
I completely understand if you don't accept my apology, or want me to stand with you through this time of grief and anger, but I'm here for you 110 percent now.
Growing up, I never knew true diversity. There were not even 15 nonwhite students in my entire time of K–12. I grew up thinking 15 out of a thousand students was diversity. I began college in Fall 2016 and was thrown into a community of many religions, cultures, and races and had no idea what to do. Nonetheless, I made many friends from diverse backgrounds — more than I ever had in high school. My main friend group, including myself, consisted of two white girls, one Asian girl, one mixed Filipino-white girl, and one Puerto Rican girl.
Needless to say, I had amazing friends, yet I would still use racist language and have discriminatory and xenophobic thoughts. I 100 percent admit I made a comment about a girl being Jewish in my first semester because I thought it was funny. Yet when my Puerto Rican friend was asked if she was getting deported, I was outraged. My mindset and thinking were not fair, respectful, nor understandable. How the hell could I be mad at someone making a joke about my friend, then say derogatory things to another?
In that same semester, the 2016 election occurred, and I lost many friends due to it. I lost respect from others. I lost trust from others. I lost my morals and character. I didn't hate anyone for their political beliefs? I didn't hate other people of other races? But I damn sure acted and spoke like I did. And that was wrong, and always will be wrong. What's even worse is that I knew people of color were being treated differently. I knew they were being targeted and murdered for having different skin.
I vividly remember sitting on my couch in 2012 and watching the news of Trayvon Martin's murder. How could a fucking neighborhood watchman get away with murdering a minor because he's walking home in the rain? How the hell is that suspicious? I was so infuriated that I began thinking of going into law in college. The biggest question is what made me forget this happened? I turned my back on the black community and acted like nothing happened.
I was no better than Zimmerman.
I was no better than Chauvin and Thao.
I recently graduated college this May and was once again infuriated by the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Aubery, and George Floyd.
She was in HER HOME.
He was JOGGING.
It was an ALLEGED fake bill.
The black community deserves to be enraged. They deserve justice for their family, friends, and children. They DESERVE to live. THEIR LIVES MATTER. Over the course of my education, I have made deep connections and relationships with people of color. So deep I consider them my second family. They would walk me home to my apartment after my midnight shifts. They would educate me on the issues of the surrounding communities. They would listen to the words I had to say and we could ALWAYS have a meaningful and calm discussion on our thoughts and opinions.
They never hated me for thinking differently. They welcomed me as someone who could learn the reasoning behind the madness. They would make fun of my Trump lanyard. They never hated me because they knew I loved them.
I never saw their skin. I saw their character, their morals, their intelligence.
I have never been more infuriated than when Trump tweeted that those who were grieving and protesting the murder of George Floyd were "thugs." THUGS. In that moment, I knew I had contributed greatly to the discrimination and hate towards people I call family. I contributed to placing a racist in the White House. I contributed by not learning or listening sooner. I contributed by turning my back on Trayvon in 2012.
There are absolutely no words I can say to express how sorry I am for the things I've said, the things I've done, and the things I haven't done or said. I'm not asking for your forgiveness, but I am asking that you let me stand with you in this fight. Your life matters. Yes, "all lives matter," but yours is in danger now and that needs to be prioritized. Yours deserves the spotlight. Your words deserve to be heard louder. Your pain needs to be seen in everyone's eyes. YOU DESERVE TO LIVE.
My friends may not be my friends after reading this, but I will never leave their side. They're good people. They're intelligent people. They're kind people. They're my people, and I refuse to live another day not standing by their side fully. That's not a friend. That's a coward.
I am perfectly fine with losing friends and family if that means standing up for what is right. This fight is not Republicans versus Democrats. This fight is not men versus women. This fight is not black versus white. This fight isn't and never was to become a fight. This is a movement. This is a movement to show we are equal. This is a movement to show we all bleed the same. This is a movement to show we are equal.
If their life doesn't matter, neither should mine. To everyone who's messaged me about "So, that means you're voting for Joe Biden?" you clearly are not hearing the message behind everything and I encourage you to have an open mind and heart for current events. I have never and probably will never understand what it's like to have a cop follow me and wonder if I'll see my family again. I will never understand what it's like to be looked upon as unintelligent. I will never understand what it's like to be seen as a "thug."
One thing I do understand is that my brothers and sisters in God are being murdered because of their skin, and I refuse to turn my back anymore. I'm sorry I wasn't there when I first noticed the differences. I'm sorry I contributed to the hatred of your communities and families. I'm sorry I never had a talk with myself about why I do what I do. I'm sorry I profiled you. I'm sorry I voted for someone who hated or hates you. I'm sorry for not listening to you. I'm sorry for everything I've done that made you feel lesser than me. If anything, you're greater.
As I said before, I'm not typing this for you to forgive me. I'm typing this to apologize to YOU for my behavior and words. I'm with you now — and will be forever.