Under This Sky With Me

night sky.jpg


In one week, I’ve probably gone through all the stages of grief, although I don’t remember what they are exactly, so I can’t say for sure. Denial, anger, and something else…

Oh yes, acceptance.

So I take that back, I haven’t moved through all the stages because I am not in acceptance. I don’t mean I’m in rejection, either. I won’t be protesting or writing angry yet inspiring blog posts. All are tempting, but they only serve to distract, appease our collective guilt, make us feel powerful when we are not.

I’m too pragmatic for that. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen this before. Had it look me up and down. Learned to live with it.

Hate, fear and ignorance have always been with us. They are as old as the sun and the moon and the stars.

I got my first piece of hate mail when I was seventeen years old. For writing about my grandparents who were sent to Japanese internment camps. This was before email and Facebook, so the letter came in an envelope addressed specifically to me.

Hate knew where I lived. Like the sun, it burned my skin, forcing me to the shadows.

My uncle grew up in the south where they turned fire hoses and dogs on his people. Lynched boys not much older than him. Some fifty years later, he receives anonymous notes saying he’s not wanted here. In Colorado, not Alabama.

Fear walks down his street. Like the moon, it rises every night in the darkness.

This week, my son overheard kids yell down the hall, “Goodbye, Juan. Maybe we’ll see you on the other side.” Because being brown means you’re not an American. They do not know his ancestors settled here more than 150 years ago.

Ignorance echoes in our schools. Like the stars, it is everywhere.

Hate, fear and ignorance have always been with us. They are as old as the sun and the moon and the stars.

For those who have never been forced to look up at the sky, I’m sorry. I know it hurts to lose what you thought to be true. But now you are closer to truth than before.

For those who have always known this truth, I’m sorry. The sun is burning brighter, the moon is glowing colder, and the stars are so close they can almost touch you. I hope they recede, move away and go back up into the sky.

But I hope they stay close enough.

Because now everyone can see them. Not just the Asian people or Black people or Latino people. Not just women. Not just gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people. Not just people with disabilities.

All people.

For those who are looking up at the sky for the first time, blinking back tears in its brightness, know this.

I will comfort you. Sing the same lullabies my Japanese grandmother sang to me, when I first looked up. Songs of empathy for those who suffer, and for those who hate. They are not so different from us.

I will teach you to be safe. Because someone might hurt you for marching in a protest, someone might terrorize you for writing on Facebook. You must learn to be thoughtful about the risk you bring to yourselves and those you love.

I will show you what it means to be brave. To know that love does not always win, good does not always beat evil. And yet, we must live as though they do. Otherwise, we surrender, and this fight must go on.

In return, I ask you one thing. Do not move into acceptance. This last stage of grief is one I cannot enter. Not out of stubbornness, but because I have no choice, and neither do millions of other Americans.

So please. Hold my hand, and I will hold yours. I will comfort you, teach you to be safe, show you what it means to be brave. But I need you stay here. Under this sky with me.

14 thoughts on “Under This Sky With Me

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