Cleveland Charter High School

Message to my next president: Move beyond political polarization to create change in our society

Dear Future President,

As 2020 draws to an end as does the lame-duck period. We enter an America that is politically polarized, but still wrecked by waves of COVID-19, pursuing racial equality and afraid of civil war and violence.

In such difficult and uncertain times, when we look to our leaders and government for proper action, set policies and guidance, but find fervent divide and cracks in democracy, the future is more uncertain.  If simple political discourse between party sides is impossible, what hope do we have to heal as a nation, especially when the most marginalized citizens of our country are dying and disappearing?

The country is bleeding red and blue, armed with emotion, ignorance and corporate funds. 

With increased distrust in both the government, different parties and media, principles of liberty, checks and balances, the remedy against factions in Federalist 10, all seem to be slipping away. Free speech, democracy, liberty — all the ideals that wove the fabric of the American Dream and drew my grandparents and parents — seem to be crumbling. 

Witnessing this, I feel anger and hopelessness for normalcy and life is falling apart; it promises that there’s no exit, no hope. The presence of death now seems to surround me, a chilling companion and shadow. Whether it’s a peer who committed suicide, the loss of a family member to COVID, or daily fear and confrontation with authorities, loss, death and injustice have touched us all. 

It’s in the smell of disinfectant every time I visit the hospital to see a grandparent and pass by rooms filled with patients on ventilators. It’s in the eyes of my friends, my family and my community. I’m almost scared to look in the mirror and see it reflected in myself.

My community and our country are afflicted with COVID-19, mental health and suicide, police brutality and systematic racism, homophobia, sexism; the list goes on. 

Death has touched me in the loss of my grandfather. We couldn’t give him a proper goodbye. My aunt kissed him goodbye through a set of masks on his forehead and his funeral was sparse with the restraints of social distancing.

As tears poured from my cheeks at his funeral, I was simultaneously wrecked by grief and a fear that the pool of tears would seep through my mask and make me more susceptible to the disease. It broke my heart.

I’m scared to live in an America where confederate flags are waved blatantly at marches and where I live in constant fear that the lives of my parents, family, friends and myself will be stolen. After months of BLM protests and the deaths of African American citizens, will America return to a Trump America — all efforts forgotten.

Will you slap a bandaid on a bullet wound? 

I’m scared to live in a reality where fires rage, the skies are saturated with grey and red and ashes fall like smoky snow. 

I’m scared to live in a reality where innocent children are caged and when the separation of parents and children is lost in paperwork and seen as the norm. 

I am scared of my reality. 

I urge you to look beyond the party divide and bridge the government. As a man in a position of power, please do not establish that what America is and what America was is what America should be. 

I want to look at the highest office in the land, look at the legislative branch, look at SCOTUS and see accountability and the voice of the people. Please use your platform to mitigate some of these fears, and establish greater equality and peace that was written about in the Constitution.

Sincerely,

Macy Kwon

Cleveland High School

Reseda, Calif.