A Letter to Lady Liberty

by Rebecca Singer

Dear Ms. Liberty,

I respectfully acknowledge that your arm is likely quite tired. Holding up the flame of freedom, truth, and justice is no small task. In fact, it is an enormous responsibility. I do understand how difficult that burden can be, as there are days when I have not been sure that I could fit another tale of violence and victimization into my backpack. It seemed like too much work to hoist it onto my shoulders and venture forth into the world. But then my young neighbor Josephine's impish smile is there before me. From beneath her Christmas braids I see her sparkling eyes daring me to forget her bruises.

Lady Liberty

Illustration: Jamie Hu

So, I get it. I really do. But, come on, no one told you to demand the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. That is on you. You said, and I quote, "Give me."

So we gave. The tired. The poor. The huddled masses. The wretched and the homeless. The tempest-tossed and those yearning to breathe free.

And now, and now, you want to give up?

Or worse: not only do you want to let your arm down, turn off the light, and shut the door, you want to put on a blindfold.

Or worse still: you want to use your torch to shine a light on those tired, poor, huddled masses so that the vibrant, rich, and rugged individuals can root them out and push them down and send them away.

If it were only migrants, or only communities of color,

Or only people with disabilities,

Or only those who identify as LGBTQI,

Or only Muslims,

Or only women,

I might be able to write it off as just one unfathomable and unsavory quirk.

But, really, this wholesale institutionalized structural hatred and violence against all but the few whose cloaks of privilege allow them warmth and protection — it leaves me reeling, it leaves me questioning the very ground beneath our feet.

I get that your work is hard. I get that your arm is tired.

But my heart is too heavy and my fear too great to let it go.

So, Ms. Liberty, I hereby offer my arms to help you hoist the lamp back up to its proper place as one of a thousand points of light, reminding us who we want to be, who we truly are.

Please hear my words in the spirit in which they are offered, in humility, with admiration for the principles you espouse, with a sense of the courage it will take for us to return to our collective roots.

Rebecca Singer, American citizen

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