Below is an email that I wrote to syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts. I like to read opinions that differ from my own, and Mr Pitts generally leans a little bit more left than I do. However, I have always respected what he said because he comes from a point of facts, research and reason.
A couple weeks ago, he wrote an opinion piece that challenged my thinking about the athletes that kneel during the National Anthem. This morning, he offered a slant to the recent shooting of Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa.
I’m not going to tell you that Leonard Pitts has made me completely change my way of thinking. I will tell you, however, that he has given me food for thought which I am still processing in my mind. Writing is my way of processing, and I thought I’d share the letter I wrote to him.
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Dear Mr. Pitts.
I am also a writer, although in a different genre and far less visible. However I know how much it means when a reader tells me that I provoked their thinking, and made them challenge their own paradigms, because that’s why I write.
So here goes feedback for you. I am a white, female, former corporate executive, former Marine officer, and now leadership consultant and writer. The parameters I described gave me a solid grounding in what I believed, and while I consider myself a republican, I never felt compelled to follow candidates because of the party but because I believed that they were the best candidate to do the work of the office. Now of course, everyone has their own idea about “the work of the office,” but mine was safety, freedom and prosperity. At least that’s what comes to mind as I write today.
This election year has messed me up. Seriously. And you are a contributor.
Until I read your commentary on the football players kneeling, I unequivocally believed that the US had given them their opportunity to earn millions of dollars, so they should shut up about America’s flaws; after all, those flaws are few and far between. Until I read your “bad dude” article this morning, I tried to convince myself that these police shootings were mistakes or, in the worst case, bad apples.
I was mad at the President for fanning the flames of racism, believing that he held the power in his hand to unite us, once and for all, and stop pointing out issues of race.
What you highlighted about the helicopter pilot making a snap judgment that Crutcher was “bad” hit me upside the head; something that has been happening all too frequently this year.
Part of me wanted to believe in “make America great again,” I think because it echoed my “oh, just get over it,” feeling. But the more I hear how people are defining “great,” I really don’t want that. I love the fact that our country welcomes anyone who wants to call this home. I love the fact that there really are opportunities for anyone.
I think what finally added to the provocation of your columns was hearing others’ definition of “great.” I got more and more frightened that people in this country actually want to go back to a time where white men ruled, and as I look at my friends and family and their beliefs, that’s exactly what some of them want. That makes me sad.
At the same time, my leadership mantra is the alignment of actions and infrastructure – that actions won’t change unless the infrastructure allows for change. When I put that together with this new realization that I don’t want his definition of “great,” I’m feeling bewildered and a little lost. And I won’t even go into my thoughts about honesty and integrity in either candidate.
So I honestly don’t know what to do. There is a part of me that senses that this is our “wake up call” to those of us who might loosely use the term “great,” only to find out that it doesn’t really match what is in our hearts. Perhaps he was put in this race to scare the hell out of me and others, and to get us to dig down deep as to what we really believe.
And thanks to you and your thought provoking articles, I am in a different place. I haven’t quite figured out what that is, and I don’t quite know what to do about it. I will look for opportunities to make a fundamental change to the infrastructure that allows what I really believe America should be, but don’t know where to start.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to allow you to stretch my thinking.
If you’re so inclined, read the articles and let me know if it challenged your thinking?