I am writing to you because I want you to know how much I care about you. I know you care about me too, but we are not supposed to show it. I just want you to understand me and my situation. See, I hope I don't get in trouble for writing you, but more important, I hope you don't get in trouble for reading this secret letter. I'm writing in the dark, so bear with me.
I am an African-American woman from a low-income single parent family from the south side of Chicago. My ancestors were brought here from Africa, enslaved, raped, lynched, hosed-down, killed. The constitution states that I am 3/5 human. Somebody said that I speak Black Vernacular English, but if I want a good-paying job they told me to speak Standard English. You know, the way you talk. They say I can get a job because of the affirmative action law. I just hope that you, my friend, won't say that it is reverse discrimination.
Now, I am at St. Cloud State University. You know, this is the place we met. Remember? I am the only African-American student in my classes, but that's OK. Our school is culturally diverse. Thank you for supporting me. I should be happy because I can eat, sleep, drink, and be educated just like you, my white friend. But I just wish we could have started at the same time. I like you so much beause you really listen to me. You understood me when I yelled and cried when the news stated the verdict of the Rodney King case--"not guilty." You listened to me on Christopher Columbus Day when we rallied to reveal and rethink his day of celebration. You understand my hurt and pain when we walk on campus and in the community and hear people call me "fucking nigger . . . go back to Africa." You, my dear white friend, tried to comfort me by saying you don't see my color. This really hurt me because you don't see my beautiful black skin. I see your beautiful white skin; thus, I see you.
Also, you said I complain too much. You said times have changed, so I should forget the past. My friend, I agree times have changed. Now, my only wish is to be treated equally--like you. I just want the same job and same pay as you. I just want to live in a nice house like yours. I want my family to have the finest education, food in their stomachs, and clothes on their backs. Tell me your secret. You think I am mean because I shout "no justice, no peace." Please understand that I don't hate you. I only want to express my feelings to you, and hopefully you will express your feelings to me. Let's work together.
I know you've never been in my situation--my dear white friend, I pray that you never will. I only have one wish--I want to be treated like you, my dear white friend. Tell me how this will happen--will I have to be you?
This magazine is produced by the Write Place and is funded through a St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, Minnesota) Cultural Diversity Committee allocation. Contributors retain all rights to their work.