A Letter From a Delayed BART Passenger

MILLBRAE, CA - JULY 03:  A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train sits idle at the Millbrae station on July 3, 2013 in Millbrae,
MILLBRAE, CA - JULY 03: A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train sits idle at the Millbrae station on July 3, 2013 in Millbrae, California. For a third day, hundreds of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area commuters are scrambling to find ways to work as two of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) largest unions remain on strike while they continue contract negotiations with management. Train operators, mechanics, station agents and maintenance workers are seeking a five percent wage increase and are fighting management who want to have workers to begin contributing to their pensions, pay more for health insurance and reduce overtime expenses. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dear Protestors,

This past weekend, you have totally inconvenienced me. Dreams of Beyoncé and dancing with friends filled my head on Friday, but you shut down transbay BART service. On Saturday, protests resulted in teargas, which totally dampened the mood of my holiday party. Last night, I went to sleep with helicopter lights shining directly through my window and awoke to reports that my local Whole Foods was looted. Glass is shattered surrounding my home in Berkeley, businesses' windows have been boarded up throughout the Bay, and folks are relatively uneasy in a community that, for the most part, is extraordinarily privileged.

Thank you.

Is my momentary uneasiness fair at this time? No, probably not. I didn't do anything to create this broken system. However, my uneasiness will pass. Will an African-American man who is 6'4 and 220 ever not be concerned while in the presence of the police? Frankly, I can't imagine that reality.

As a millennial, I have the privilege of being familiar with all the protests that have come before, but only in a history class. Because of these protests, I'm able to have the weekend off, get paid time off, use a bus when I break my leg, identify as queer, and live and work while maintaining a relatively great life. If it weren't for folks that fought so hard to assure these rights, all American lives would be worse off. Though many are judgmental of these current protests, all of us benefit from past revolutionaries.

Yes, the protests may cause inconvenience and the looting does give me pause. However, my inconvenience is trivial to the systemic racism that operates in this country. There are people that have spoken about police militarization and systemized racism much better than I ever could, but I'm only hopeful that these protests will continue until genuine transformation happens.

Protestors, you will be heckled in the media, arrested, and condemned via Facebook's News Feed. I'm thankful for every one of your late night protests, your disruption of my nights, and your continued fight towards us having deep discussions about race in this country. Thank you for your work, your convictions, and your patriotism.

In solidarity,
James