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  • Writer's pictureV.L. Cason

An Open Letter to Friends and Family

As we stand on the precipice of a dramatic shift in our Country, I find myself questioning. Questioning the reality of the words that anyone has ever spoken, their actions, and ultimately their humanity. Placing these words on paper brings tears to my eyes. I have shed more tears in the last few years than I care to count. Loses so heavy that the weight on my heart is nearly unbearable. Each day brings me closer to an edge so sharp I feel like a pile of ribbons awaiting one light breeze to blow me away.

If anything about what I say feels harsh, good. Because every single part of the healthy side of my soul has come to a screeching halt, the things that used to bring me joy have fallen by the wayside. No photography, podcast, hobbies, voiceovers, or writing unless you count this letter. It is not that I do not want to do them; it is just that I do not see the point. The frustration with people who continue to blissfully go on with their lives with no cognizant recognition of the destruction around them creates frustration inside my soul that there remains no room for anything else.

How did we get to this point? I ask myself this question each day. It can be summed up in one phrase. I am too busy. Yes, that is it. I have been there myself. For years and decades, even I put off matters of importance because I was too busy with work. We have bills…trust me, I get it. It is time to stop. Stop and listen to your heart. Stop and realize this is not what life is all about. The American way of acquiring stuff has put so many people in a position of being unable to keep up with what is truly going on right under their noses, and if we do not wake up, none of it will matter.

To escape the noise inside my head, I like to go camping. This brings me to a subject I want to express to everyone. Are you able to go out and about without fear? A walk in the woods, an overnight camping trip, a trip to an out-of-the-way place to have a meal, or take a few photos yourself? If you can answer yes, good for you. You have a privilege that more people are losing each day while you ignore what is happening in our halls of government. If you scoffed at that, you are the problem. Yes, you.

Placing yourself in the shoes of another is something almost no one does anymore. Once more, recognizing your privilege is one of the most misunderstood things of the day. Utter the word privilege, and instantly, the defensive attitude springs to the surface. If that makes you mad, you are the problem. As a white person, I have privilege. This privilege has afforded me many advantages; it has finally taken most of my life to recognize this fact.

Today, I am angry, frustrated, and despondent that the erosion of my freedom continues because of society's hate, division, and ignorance. This morning I realized it was time to speak about what is normally reserved for my journals. The fear of losing friends or family members has kept me silent, but when I thought, are they really in your corner? Do they or will they have your back when it matters? Honestly, I do not know anymore. And once more, I do not care whom I offend. I am sick and tired of always being the one who gives at my expense of myself. Keeping silent to keep the peace. I should have learned that as a child, but that is another story. IYKYK

This is where I am at these days. I no longer leave my home without protection. I fear going to out-of-the-way places. I fear everyone when I go camping. I fear getting too far from the vehicle when I go camping. I fear being out of the vehicle after dark. I fear going on a walk or a hike despite having protection. I fear exploring one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. To this point, no one has given me a reason to feel this way. You might ask yourself, why then do I feel so afraid? You might also think I am being dramatic and should enjoy my life and stop worrying. Easy for you to say. See, that right there is your privilege. To invalidate my feelings is precisely why we are at this juncture.

To sit back and not recognize the realities of others has been a problem in this Country for decades, so the fact that some of us are facing an uncertain future is partially our fault. Yes, we did not listen to those before us either. Until everyone wakes up and stops only thinking of themselves, nothing will change, and history will repeat itself.

A little history and some reality from my experiences are in order. In 1990, I was leaving a downtown Tampa, Florida, establishment when four white males in a vehicle threatened me verbally because of my appearance. They exited the vehicle and approached me, threatening me with physical violence. I was shoved by one. At that point, a security guard saw this and ran them off. I went on with life, never mentioning it to anyone for years. In those days, there was no point in reporting it. Nothing happened, so that no one would care anyway. Words do not hurt, right?

Fast forward to 2017, and I was going to Target in St. Augustine, Florida. I needed to pop into the restroom before shopping, and the hate and ignorance reared their ugly head again. A woman exited the bathroom while I was entering, and I had that familiar feeling. The feeling I often get when people with pure hate in their hearts look at me. I was sitting on the toilet when the security banged on the door, saying I needed to use the other bathroom. I was mortified. My response was, I am a female! He left, and that was the end of it. I was so upset I had to leave without doing my shopping. You can add the fear of public restrooms to the list I mentioned earlier. I run home between errands to use the bathroom now out of fear of an idiot that chooses a gun instead of getting security.

I have had body dysmorphia my entire life. This has worsened as years pass, and total strangers have added to these feelings. As I look back on my life and learn about gender and misgendering, it is ironic how a society hell-bent on people living their lives in the body they were born with. Those very people have misgendered me my entire life. What the hell am I supposed to think after a lifetime of it? This is my thinking when I hear stories of many people struggling with gender issues. Living amongst people who think they have the right to run your life harms your psyche. I was born with my appearance. There is not a damn thing I can do about that. Trust me, I spent most of my younger years inside this trauma, and only with age have I found peace, except that the trauma has returned.

This is my first time saying what I will say aloud. I have not cut my hair for months. With everything going on, I am afraid to keep it short. There, I said it. How is your day going?

I ask you to put aside your political column and think with your heart. I cannot stand politicians. They are all corrupt. Let me be clear when I say this…you can be conservative. You can be liberal. You can be religious or not. You can have opinions on issues that differ from mine. I do not care, but if you do not see what is happening and do not care, we have no future as friends or family. Dangerous ideologies are rising in our Country, and you must stop sitting on your hands and doing nothing because you are too busy or it does not affect you so that you can ignore it. The ones who can help the most are white men. If you are one or know one, pass this on. Until the good white men stand up against the hatred, you are just as guilty.

If this reaches you in the mail, email, blog, or other means, understand this…it may not apply to you. If you read it and become defensive or angry, I encourage you to look deep inside yourself and ask why? Before you speak, the first things that come to mind sit with your thoughts for 24 hours. If you think someone you know needs to hear this, please pass this on. I will be flooding every medium possible to get this message seen. You need not respond. All I ask is to wait 24 hours before you do.

Is there someone else you know that might be at risk if not me? A sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, parent, child, friend, coworker? Chances are there is someone in your life you would not want to see as a victim of hate, ignorance, or willful restriction by a government overstepping the fundamental freedoms we should all be afforded. One segment of our society who thinks they are safe is white women. Make no mistake; you are next if things continue down this road.

The emotions within me these days are reaching an explosive level. There are days when I feel like my heart will explode from the pain. The usual ways of reaching ears feel like it has failed, so this is my last attempt. There comes a time for each of us to step up for the greater good. To do otherwise is to turn your back on humanity. Ladies, educate yourselves, then educate the good men in your life. Do your own research and stop letting the media think for you. If your information comes from one place, you are failing yourself.

Pass it on. Please.

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