Dear Bill de Blasio: The City Of New York Demands More

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I have had the honor of serving the people of this great city and your administration as an analyst at the Department of Education over the past year and a half. I write this morning with great respect for the difficult work your team does to create progress and opportunity for all New Yorkers, even those like my wife and I who have only recently begun calling this city our home. As the past year and a half has coincided with a frighteningly hateful and ugly turn in our national discourse, New York City has felt like a kind of refuge for us, and it has surprised us to imagine that after living in several large, progressive cities, there is no other place we would rather raise our future children.

Today, as has often been the case in American history, the stepwise and pragmatic progress that we make can feel so slow as to be crippling or perhaps insulting to the desperate needs that people face every day. I find myself deeply conflicted and also humbled by the reality that finding a compromise while also maintaining the integrity of our principles seems almost impossible, and I find myself hesitant to speak out for fear of losing the power to act at some future date.

I am reminded this morning of this passage by Dr. King:

Perhaps now is the time to take such positions, in the wake of an election that has unnerved anyone who imagined that the slow progress of our “establishment” style politics would be enough for a people desperately crying out for the power and potential of our institutions to stand with the common man and not only with the wealthy and powerful.

Here in New York City, the leading progressive city of our nation, our citizens cry out for justice and equality from prison cells on Riker’s Island, where four out of five are awaiting trial, and one in two are charged with non-violent crimes — where by our inaction we have condemned children to suffer violence and solitary confinement.

Here in New York City, people of color fear for their lives when they see the uniform of our city’s finest, substantially none of whom wakes up in the morning hoping to exercise deadly force during their shift. But black and brown people in this city know that there are little to no consequences for officers who might ignore their cries of “I can’t breathe” — even after the coroner rules their death a homicide, and use-of-force experts across the country point out the dangers of the illegal choke-hold applied in their case. Even after the entire nation has learned their name, and thousands have cried out in protest, justice will be denied to their families and their communities.

Here in New York City, people can scarcely afford a place to live, and if they can find that affordable place to live, they often can’t find a school for their child that doesn’t feel like a losing wager for their family’s future.

Here in New York City, the best and brightest minds of our generation are looking to you for leadership, we are looking to your administration to provide an environment that validates the notion that all of us have an equal stake in our common destiny and prosperity. We are waiting to see if you will stand with courage against the self-interest and fears of a few, however powerful, and usher in a new era of equity and opportunity for all New Yorkers.

But we will not wait much longer.

As you now know, more and more of us are growing impatient, and as Dr. King also noted, “lightning makes no sound until it strikes…the revealing flash of its power and the impact of its sincerity and fervor [displays] a force of a frightening intensity.”

I have committed to join with those who will boycott this city that I love with all my heart, because sometimes love involves sacrifice and challenging each other — demanding of each other that we do better.

We can do better.

We must do better.

Won’t you show us how we will be better?

Yours in service and with great respect,

Abram Guerra

This letter was emailed to the Mayor’s office on 12/14/16 as part of a letter writing campaign for injusticeboycott.com. It was published to Abram Guerra’s personal blog and was later picked up by Extra Newsfeed on Medium. Keep on reading!

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