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Op-ed

An Open Letter to Thomas Jefferson

Dear Mr. Jefferson, 

The United States of America is turning 243 years old this Thursday, the Fourth of July. It most definitely feels like an achievement, especially now since four years ago we had expected this country to fall into shambles. Though, if you were still alive right now and had lived through all of American history, I can guarantee that you would have it rather fall into shambles than witness the continuous destruction the United States has befallen on the rest of the world and its people.

I envy you for the fact that you did not get to see what the United States of America, with all its talk of liberty and equal rights, has done to countries and people all over the world. American Indians are still under the persecution of poverty after decades of a massacre, our leaders continue to involve themselves in the business of other nations even though they really have no right to, and issues on race and stereotypes still have a long way to go. It is embarrassing really, and hopefully, the sun will be setting on our empire soon enough so that people will stop idealizing this country and its hypocritical beliefs that you, Mr. Jefferson, orchestrated in your most famous Declaration. 

When you wrote those promising words of liberty and declared it 243 years ago, you simultaneously established the so-called American Dream that has hundreds of us “minorities” and “immigrants” scrambling to set foot on your land and be called American citizens.

You were placed on a pedestal and turned into a god, both which I’m sure you would be flattered by. People remember you as the genius behind the revolution, the founding father who protected the farmers and the rights of ordinary people from the likes of the elite such as Alexander Hamilton. You were also the president who doubled the size of this land overnight. You did many astounding things, Mr. Jefferson, and I cannot deny that this country wouldn’t have been the same without you. But let’s get this straight: you are possibly the most overrated person in all of American history. 

The Declaration of Independence, your greatest legacy, is a prime example of this. The main purpose of the document was to unite the colonies against the oppression and taxation of Great Britain by revealing the tyrannies of the King as well as establishing the principles your people want to live by. It served its purpose well, yet, people still idolize the document 200 years later despite its hypocritical nature. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence, 1776

By all men, what you really mean is white men with land. Life was certainly not given to the Indigenous Peoples when you took their land, liberty was not given to the African-Americans you enslaved with both chains and words, and the pursuit of Happiness wasn’t given to women who you locked behind the bars of domesticity. 

Yet, people become patriotic over these. We light up our fireworks, roast our food, and chant “USA!” without even thinking about the thousands that we slaughtered in Asia, the unnecessary wars that were declared, the land that was conquered and spoiled, and the children being locked up in cells by the border. We are too proud, too prideful, and look upon the so-called American Dream with great respect. There is nothing to be prideful about the United States of America. Especially when it is the people who let such an unqualified man become their leader almost four years ago, then blame others for it.

Mr. Jefferson, this is what the country you and your colleagues have created. I wish you had lived to see these things that I’ve been talking about, and maybe you would understand. It’s not your fault people have placed you in the sky, enlightened yet unreachable. They have done this to all of the other Founding Fathers as well. But it’s long overdue for us in the present to finally bring you down and look at you and all the others as simply men with great ideas and great courage. You aren’t gods. You had your faults. We the American people need to stop placing our needs and desires and frustrations on leaders and politicians such as yourself and take it to our own hands.

This Fourth of July, occurring the year 2019, should still pay homage to you and your colleagues for their work in creating this nation. But it should also focus on celebrating the things we’ve achieved over these last few decades. The people are embracing diversity more than ever, in regards to both socioeconomic status, race, and sexual orientations. We the people are more eager to exercise our rights to vote that our ancestors have never attained (white male landowners aren’t the only ones capable to vote now, by the way). Women are having more conversations and roles regarding issues that were otherwise deemed “unfit” for them during your time. The youth of this nation, despite all the distractions and gullibility that surrounds them day by day, have been eager to take part in mature discussions as well as take action to ensure their future. I am a testimony to such because I now have the confidence to talk about these things to you, Mr. Jefferson. 

Let the American people, all of the American people, celebrate the birth of the United States and the birth of a new era wherein we all look back at history, not to dwell, but to learn, where we look at the future embodying not our so-called Manifest Destiny, but embodying kindness to one another. 

Thank you, Mr. Jefferson. Here’s to hoping that others may finally bring you down from that pedestal. 

Sincerely, a non-white, 17-year old female immigrant

Featured image via CNN

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Written By

Alexa is a sixteen year old writer, artist, and photographer in progress living in L.A. She often does spontaneous photo shoots and carries a strong belief in the Law of Attraction. When she’s not trying to wrap her mind around existential and sentimental questions, you can find her making the best out of life.

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