Letter to President Obama


Four months ago, your incredible wife gave an impassioned and prophetic speech at the Democratic National Convention. She spoke of the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the same of servitude and the sting of segregation. She recounted her experience of living in a house built by slaves juxtaposed with that of watching your beautiful daughters play with their dogs on the White House lawn. I am in awe of the way you and she have held yourself with composure over the last 8 years. I have not agreed with every decision you have made; there were times you acted when I wish you had not. And times you did not act when I wish you had. But we wept together after Newtown.

We felt the shame and grief at a country that could watch 20 first graders shot and murdered and still have its legislature fail to respond. We both know the grief and rage and powerlessness that come when we must silently watch injustice prevail – those moments when even our grief-stricken screaming is drowned out by the noise of corporate interests and special interest spending.

I appeal to that part of you now. That part of you that knows what it is like – as president, father, husband, and human being – to see injustice go on unchecked in spite of its glaring nature.

Today my dear brother CJ will wake up in Standing Rock in North Dakota. He and hundreds of others will once more dedicate their hearts and souls to the overwhelming task of asking the government to see them – to hear them- to do something. They will offer their bodies at the altar of resistance, hoping someone will recognize and act differently from the 600 years of history in which we have killed, raped and pillaged Native people.

I am hoping that man will be you. The one to hear. The one to let their voices in, even as they are assaulted with hoses and rubber bullets and pepper spray. Even as you allow our police to continue betraying their own souls and the public’s trust by unleashing violence on the bodies of people crying to be heard. I ask you to hear them.

In two months, a man will come into office who does not know the value of non-white bodies the way that you do. I ask that you do not make us wait to see what happens to the water protesters at Standing Rock when he takes office. I ask that you look back over a half-millennium’s sins against the indigenous inhabitants of this land and decide that it is time to create a different America. One that values bodies over oil; water and life over police domination and corporate interests.

Mr. President, I look to you today in a way I have not since 6-year-olds were slaughtered in our country.

Please intervene. This government we have “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” let it be for the people of Standing Rock. Doing nothing is to side with injustice. It is to be on the wrong side. You are not a man to consciously, purposely be on the wrong side. Please look deeply in yourself and find the courage to do what needs to be done to protect the Native people, their lands and their water.

Your son and brother.

Monday, November 21, 2016

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