Throughout the hard process of attempting to forgive you, I had to remind myself why your thoughts manifested themselves the way they did, and I indeed thought of a thousand reasons. You may not have witnessed and fathomed the realities of others, and I genuinely hope to help you see a glimpse of the realities of many of your colleagues, myself included, to help you see for yourself why your article has unsettled and offended many people. The number of things that puzzle and confuse me beyond imagination are endless. However, there are few facts I am certain about more than anything else in the world.
I am certain that you would have not said what you did, had you had a sick mother who could not afford medication, or had the constant pain on her face stabbed you in the chest every time you looked at her. You would have not said what you said had your parents received an eviction warning for not paying the rent of your one-bedroom apartment for three consecutive months. And I am certain that you wouldn’t have said what you said had you not been able to leave the tiny, hopeless, poor neighborhood you lived in your entire life without financial aid and carry the hopes of your family on your back.
Your article has caused so much pain and agony for so many people. People who have had to fight their way through life since infancy. People who have risen up after every time life knocked them down, and favored the highest bidders.
Here, I must pause to thank you. The pain you caused me made me check my privilege. The privilege of growing up in an environment where I was taught to work hard for what I want, and to earn it. The privilege of having a parent who cannot afford buying new pajamas, but would sacrifice everything she had for me to be educated, open-minded, and independent. The privilege of being grateful for the smallest things in life that cannot be bought. A simple breakfast of whatever is left in the fridge. A family gathering around a candle in winter while the electricity is out. A bed shared with a sibling, or more, for lack of beds, space, and warmth. The privilege of the pride I hold in me for deserving to attend this great institution regardless to my current financial limitations. And finally, the privilege of knowing that one day I will share my story, and the stories of others who have proven themselves stronger than the injustices of life, with the world and, perhaps, starting with my own children whom I will teach to work hard and earn the things they aspire to have, just like my mother taught me. I will share the stories of those who did not thank the more fortunate for being more fortunate, but those who were “dissatisfied with mediocrity,” and refused to let their financial status hold them back from everything great.
As much as it is overwhelming to come from a low-income family, and to be constantly worried about the parents drowned in debt, and the basic rights that we have to fight for, I feel sorry for you. There are things you will never be able to understand. Things that are beyond money and prestige. And this is the reason I forgive you.
I forgive you for being the way you are. I forgive you for thinking the way you do. How could I blame a bird for not understanding the depths of the ocean? Like some others, I decided to elevate my response and forgive you.
I forgive you for not understanding. I forgive you for not knowing any better. And I forgive you for the life you were born into and didn’t choose. And remember that the latter is the only thing we have in common.