An Open Letter

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I’ve started this a million times.

I don’t know what to say, honestly, after Saturday’s terrorist attack.

It’s a weird feeling going from being the only Black (and honestly this is the norm for me), being accepted and welcomed by my friend’s family and friends without issue, talking to new people who were White and didn’t make you feel uncomfortable or less than. Hours later (literally), I'm sitting in an airport restaurant while CNN and MSNBC play live events from UVA.

In a matter of 2 hours, I went from feeling safe to feeling anxious, paranoid, and unsafe.

Do these people around me agree with White Supremacy? Will they start harassing POC around them because they have the freedom to now? What if I sit next to someone on the plane who’s enjoying this and makes comments for the next four hours?

To some this may seem like I’m over exaggerating, but maybe you’re not a POC or part of a group that is oppressed to understand this.

As I try to block it out and focus on the greatness of my trip, I couldn’t. My heart is broken and I’m trying everything not to cry and in the middle of the airport (that’s not a cute look).

Like I mentioned before, being the only Black person is normal for me and has been since I was in kindergarten. My friends were every color, every race, every gender, every sexuality. If you were nice, we were friends.

It’s an innocence I see in kids today. It’s an innocence I love watching my friends’ daughter have with me. If I feed her, we’re cool. Making silly faces? She laughs and hits her forehead on mine.

Other than a little bump, it's fine.

I miss that time of innocence. I miss being oblivious to the world's hatred knowing we really haven't made progress.

When a Mosque is shot up, safe spaces are invaded by a homophobic gunman, or there's a gathering of a terrorist group, the world I thought was a little less racist, a little less hateful than the 50s and 60s isn’t so. The same hate that happened then and happened before then is happening today.

This is what breaks my heart. This is what makes me sob in the middle of the floor. This is what makes me angry. This is what drives me to speak up. This is what drives me to shut up and listen.

There’s no reason for hatred. If people learned from history and didn’t try to sugarcoat it like Willy Wonka, we could actually grow.

We have to understand privilege is real. By default a lot of us benefit from the oppression of others which is jacked up in a million and one ways, but also a reason to not be silent.

It’s time more than ever to get out of our comfort zone and get uncomfortable.

White allies, POC can’t fight racism alone. You can’t sit by and shake your head and say, “how sad.” CIS gender peeps: we have to protect our transgendered brothers, sisters, and non-identifying family.Straight people: we MUST use our privilege to ensure our LGBTQIA loved ones are treated as the human beings are.Christians: It’s so important actually do what Christ would do and speak out against horrific bans against Muslims.

We have to create safe spaces for one another, and as long as I’m breathing, I will create a safe space for everyone. I got you.

I don’t have all the answers, which frustrates me to the core and I won’t get it right 100% of the time.

I'm dedicated to asking, learning, speaking out, and shutting the heck up all at the same time. FIVE12 STUDIO exists on the basis of community and diversity and will never tolerate hatred of any kind towards anyone for any reason, ever.

With love, Clarissa