Dear Rametta Family –
We have come a long way since the 2016 Presidential election. We were so divided by political ideology that part of our family didn’t attend Thanksgiving. In 2016, my heart was not only broken by my family, but my nation too. From months to years, our family wouldn’t speak to one another because of our differing political, sexual, gender, and religious identities. We – the Ramettas and America alike – forgot what we had in common.
Like each of you, I’m anxious, concerned, and disheartened about both the current state and the future of America. But I also have hope; I know that we are better than this.
I’m anxious about my chosen family in Washington, D.C. When my partner and I walk our dog down the block, we worry about being harassed by protestors in front of a Planned Parenthood center. During the January 6 insurrection, we fled our home just a mile north of the Capitol because we feared for our safety. And everyday, I worry about my partner being stopped and harassed by the police just because she is a Black woman.
I’m deeply concerned about American media outlets, baiting readers with sensationalized headlines instead of conducting investigative reporting and fact-checking. These ‘news’ outlets stoke fear and spew hatred of the ‘other,’ and have seeped into our nation’s rhetoric and changed the way we view our neighbors.
Worst of all, I’m disheartened. I’m increasingly disappointed in the language we use when speaking to one another. Americans continue to self segregate within their communities and online. There’s a decline in the empathy we show to our neighbors. Rather than seeing what we have in common, we first see our differences. It’s as if we – and I mean the collective we – have forgotten to build community. COVID not only made for physical isolation, but exacerbated the emotional and cultural isolation we’ve seen intensify over the course of decades. We are lacking a sense of community in America.
We – both Americans and the Ramettas – forgot what we have in common.
This summer the Ramettas finally came together for my sister’s annual BBQ as one big, mixed family. Each of us in the family did the hard work: we examined our motives and dreams for the future, communicated more regularly and with compassion, and remembered that there’s more that we have in common than what is different. Over food, laughter, and conversations, we were able to get past the divisions and create community. We – as Black and White, Republicans, Democrats, Catholics, atheists, queer and nonbinary, and from the East, West, Northeast, and South – built community.
If we can do it, America can do it too.
This is why I have hope for America. We have placed a man on the moon, put an end to WWII and the Cold War, eradicated polio in the United States through modern medicine, and built some of the best education systems and technology in the world. We owe it to our parents who sacrificed so much for us to build America. We owe it to my generation, who inherited a pitiful resemblance of a capitalist democracy to rebuild it. Most of all, we owe it to the next generation of Americans. They need to know and to believe in the idea of America: that all people are created equal, and that you have a right to your pursuit of happiness. Happiness looks different for you than it does for me, and that’s okay. We can celebrate those differences. America is a grand, beautiful experiment of people living their truths, individually, and all under one, big, diverse community.
We are the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. If we care about our individual and collective rights, we must put democracy into action. We must do more than vote. We are required to show up for our country, especially in times of need, and that moment has arrived. We need everyday Americans – you and me – to be next generation of leaders to become more civically engaged: donate to the Red Cross or a Hurricane Relief Fund, house refugees from Afghanistan, do the work by reading about social issues you are unaware of, ask your Town Council to build a sidewalk, join MPU… the list goes on.
We have proven time and time again that this idea of America, this experiment, works, but only if we, the people, come together as one nation.
Afterall, if the Rametta family can come together, break bread together, and create community together, so can America.