Initially I said that I would post a “love letter” every other week, however with all the chaos that is happening with the Oscar Grant trial as well as the economic/employment crisis in Oakland, I felt it appropriate to post this one today. Additionally, I recently finished reading W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk and it struck a deep chord with me. DuBois’ words haunt me with his incite as well as the similarities which the African/American experiences of the 1900s have with contemporary Asian/America and the complexities behind Grant and Mehserle. In lieu of this, enjoy Nicole’s words and let her incite seep in and warm you.
As always, be strong and be brilliant. Dream big, and dream forever.
An Open Letter to Those Who Criticize and Attack
This is an open letter to all of those who have recently launched criticism and attacks against me and my organization, Urban Peace Movement, for my role in calling for peace in anticipation of the verdict in the trial of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer charged with the murder of Oscar Grant.
While everyone is certainly entitled to his or her opinion, and we don’t all have to agree on everything, many of the attacks of late have gone far beyond healthy debate. They have called into question my intentions as a community organizer and the credibility of the organization that I work for, Urban Peace Movement.
Someone has even gone so far as to impersonate me, sending a very inflammatory e-mail made to look as if I had sent it. I have to admit that I am surprised at the level of anger that has been directed at me for calling for peace in a very difficult and traumatic moment in the history of Oakland, the city in which I was born and raised.
Such mean-spirited tactics are divisive. They stir up confusion, conflict, and mistrust amongst different parts of our movement. And in the 1960s, counter-intelligence operations used tactics like these to violently disrupt movement activities, resulting in the deaths of Bunchy Carter and John Huggins.
After some consideration, I have realized that it may actually have been a blessing that these attacks were directed at me, because I am not going to fight back. I have nothing to defend. I live an incredible life filled with wondrous blessings. And my work stands on its own. The work that I do to bring peace to Oakland neighborhoods is not a ‘burden’ or even a ‘responsibility.’ It is an honor and a privilege.
The love that I have for our people far exceeds any hatred that I have for the ‘enemy.’ This is a love letter; I want to tell you about this love.
It is the greatest love that I have ever known. It is the kind of love that compels me, the kind of love that shatters my heart open, a love so great that I almost cannot bear it. And it is my belief that this love will ultimately bring us to the justice and freedom that we all seek. I will spend the rest of my life cultivating this love and basking in its warmth.
And this love extends to all of our people, even those who have attacked me.
I have had to contend with my own moments of anger and sadness over the loss of Oscar Grant at the hands of BART police, over the loss of young people like the three Oakland youth who died last week at the hands of other young people, and even over my own relatively small pains and trials stemming from these attacks on me and my organization. Still, I am learning to hold my own feelings of anger and the anger of others with compassion and loving kindness. As much as I can help it, I will not feed this ongoing cycle of violence and hatred. And I will do my best to hold all of you with compassion. I know that, at the end of the day, we all seek the same things.
I am wishing you all of God’s grace and many mercies.
Nicole Lee , Executive Director
Urban Peace Movement