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Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Open Letter to Bill and Melinda Gates

Self-image is, indeed, a profound component in one's ability to learn. This revelation can create an entire narrative about our American identity and the means by which so many of our children are afforded an education. I ask you to reflect on the fact that a justice of our Supreme Court posed the narrowest and most unimaginable questions this week. And once the transcripts were made available, our media lauded him for not having made any assumptions, but merely posing questions about what had been deemed a thoughtful academic critique of affirmative action. I ask any white parent to spend time reflecting on having to explain that critique to their children and attributing it to them for their whiteness. I then ask those same parents to have a moment where they can explain to their children (after having found a way to explain it to themselves) why this argument is considered thoughtful and where, in 2015, this would have a place in a Supreme Court proceeding to determine if we are giving an equal chance at education to all of our children.

I could write a book about America's history and only focus on the myriad failings of 'reconstruction' after the Civil War, but its been done. And those who are intelligent can see that it has failed repeatedly and the very least among us with the loudest voices have been those to keep us from ever having found success. Those who take a reasoned look at our history realize that the failings were deliberate and targeted. No one with the capacity for critical thought would accept the stereotypes our society has allowed to permeate our collective psyche. But they are there. As a collective. And their maintenance are an imperative for those who use them to wield power, to the destruction of us all.

I applaud and genuinely respect your global initiative and I ask you to consider the role of America in that initiative. Regardless of whether or not it is warranted, America is seen as a world leader. Possibly the world leader. As such, what progress do you expect to see in the world when its chosen (or at least self-appointed) leader negates the histories and rights of its own citizens? If we cannot bring ourselves to finally offer a sincere Reconstruction 150 years after its initial attempt, what hope does the rest of the world have? One needs only look at the present GOP Presidential campaign field to realize we are regressing. We find the media and the citizens who are given leadership roles are celebrating condemnations of those with no means of defending themselves. We are witnessing expressions of hate with an acceptance of violence and terrorism against people of a specific religion and women who visit health clinics. We are allowing all conversations to end with an insistence that we should be building personal arsenals to defend against those monsters our own society has created. I, too, believe in global citizenship. But I am living in the country that you are compelling toward that understanding which lacks civility, while demanding its exceptionalism.

As you wrote this month regarding the fixed mindset and questioning your own, I ask you to expand that question to that of our nation. What have we accepted as truths about our capacity to move ourselves forward and, thus, determined unattainable? At present, we have inner cities that are falling apart. The children growing in those cities have few opportunities for education, much less advancement. If we allow a fixed mindset to embrace that as a truth, we disavow our own capacity for growth. We have a Supreme Court Justice who does not find it remotely outlandish to question the lesser capacity of those children. If society can accept that as truth, what hope do those children have? If society will dismiss and ridicule those children who march to demand that their lives matter when they come of age, what chance does our society have? I compel you to finance the movement forward that America must have before a global initiative can ever find success. I ask you to fund and expand on the grants you have been given to build our inner cities and make them a priority. I ask you to consider how the rest of your initiative will be successful if, once they find meaningful progress, the world is still led by a backward nation celebrating those who mean to denounce its own citizens and fray the very bootstraps they're meant to be pulling themselves up by.

I have no position in this or any community. I have no agenda beyond that of offering thoughtful discussion to those who hear too many irrational conversations. I have no platform or grant for you to fund. I do, however, have a voice. And I hope that my voice will reach enough people as to raise this idea to you:

(I ask that you allow my own acknowledged naivete and the simplicity in which I offer this plea to be part of my charm and spend no more time on them. Instead, I ask you to spend quiet reflection on the truth I am offering and your own capacity to grant our nation the only chance it will ever have at reparations and genuine progress).

The only way that a society, finding itself content with ignoring its own atrocities and blaming the victims of its arrogance and ignorance, can move forward is for a profound action outside of its own will. No community is going to vote to raise taxes to an extreme so as to correct the failings of a nation blind to its own hypocrisy since its inception. Your foundation can afford to get schools built in neighborhoods with little opportunity. Your foundation can have them peopled with incredible educators and give them otherwise unattainable resources. Your foundation has the voice to compel those surrounding communities to contribute time, wealth and energy to these efforts. You have the voice to remind the country that our only chance for true exceptionalism begins with embracing and lifting up our own children. All of our children. 

Also, if you could fund an initiative to get the word out to the country about the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment was never passed, it'd be great. I feel confident that if women understood this simple truth, we could take it from there.

Thank you. Most sincerely.


  1. AGREE! "I ask you to fund and expand on the grants you have been given to build our inner cities and make them a priority. I ask you to consider how the rest of your initiative will be successful if, once they find meaningful progress, the world is still led by a backward nation celebrating those who mean to denounce its own citizens and fray the very bootstraps they're meant to be pulling themselves up by."

  2. Dear Angie, After reading your plea for the Gates foundation to do the needful things exquisitely enunciated, I cannot help wondering which direction you're headed in. Is the point that the very people who have the wherewithal to "make freedom ring," are instead consumed with controlling systemic educational culture, remade to mirror corporate hegemony? Or, conversely, are we to subscribe to said naïveté as a sincere appeal to the planet earth's penultimate "Puppet Masters," aka, Bill & Melinda Gates??

    1. Its both. I wanted to define our present culture as I see it and then, after having made it clear that those with the capacity to move our world forward have only the will to take us back and denounce their own complicity, compel the only to the only people with the power to exceed all else to force the necessary progress onto America. I agree that they could be seen as puppet masters, but I also believe that their motives are sincere. I know that their power is so far in excess of the others because society as a whole respects their initiatives. My naivete was important to point out, I believe, because if my plea ever made it to the Gates Foundation I would want them to understand that, although I realize any proposal to be written would be an actual tome, not a blog entry. And I want them to only reflect on the simple truths I put forward and allow their own team to take it from there. My revelation of their own power to counter the true evil I find leading national discourse and inaction compelled me to write this. Bill Gates reads a lot and thinks a lot. It was worth a shot.