By: Maral N. Attallah
Open letter to the folks tearing down David Josiah Lawson pictures/posters, immigrant rights posters and writing hateful, racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric on whiteboards and office doors:
Maybe you are the same folks, maybe not, but my message is the same.
Ignorance does not justify or excuse hate!
Your statements about immigrants are factually incorrect. I do not intend on debating you but I am happy to share resources to help educate you and maybe then engage in some dialogue. It’s not a problem, it’s what I do… but you know this because you’ve stood in front of my office door and know what I teach. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt because it’s also what I do. At this point you have the choice of learning or remaining willfully ignorant. Take some time to think about it.
I hope that after you tore down David Josiah Lawson’s picture that you paused to see my open letter right below it, where I reflect on his passing. I hope you read it and I hope you felt a tinge of guilt for your actions, I know you are capable of empathy, most of us are. I hope that is why you left my letter up. Regardless of your intentions, your actions were hateful but I will still show you empathy and I’ll do you a solid and put the picture back up for you! It’s all good, it’s already back up.
You can learn from this moment and become a better human being or you can remain willfully ignorant, your choice. A young man has died and you tore down his picture. Think about that. Immigrants are needlessly suffering, in part due to the ignorance you parroted with your permanent marker. Dehumanizing language does not change the facts. The crazy thing is permanent markers are not permanent; your message did not stay up very long. You can tear down pictures/posters but folks will keep printing and posting. Take some time to reflect on your actions and in the meantime, we will keep putting up posters with statements like, “Everyone is Welcome Here”, “No Human Is Illegal”, “Compassion is Invincible” and my personal favorite, “Sí Se Puede!”
Lastly, for those who may feel unsafe or targeted by these hateful actions, hold strong in the fact that so many folks have your back! “They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.”
Maral N. Attallah
Distinguished Lecturer, Dept. of CRGS