Russell Simmons Open Letter to President Trump
Dear President Trump,
Remember when, from the behind the scenes, you strategically helped Rima Fakih win the Miss USA pageant, making her the first Muslim woman to ever wear the crown? Remember how influential you were to crowning Leila Lopez from Angola, who is black, as Miss Universe? Do you remember me introducing you to the beautiful black supermodel Kara Young? You were smitten with her, dated publicly and bragged about how wonderful she is in numerous interviews.
Do you remember all of your New York Jewish and African-American friends you probably spent more time hanging out with than all the WASPs you could find? Do you remember making sure Jews who were turned away at other country clubs had an open door policy at Mar-a-lago?
Do you remember that guy? I do. That was the Donald I called friend. That is the Donald I know. Where is he now? I have to believe he is still in there, somewhere.
The yogis say that life’s journey is inward and we grow into the self by struggle and obstacles placed before us, and that they are only there to speed up our inevitable evolution, toward our connection to God or the higher self.
All the turmoil surrounding your time in office is a test. It can be used for good or used for evil. You can ace it or fail it. It can push you toward being a smarter, more evolved and more self-aware version of yourself or be used to destroy you and the people you took an oath to serve. There is a ticking clock over your head, and the fate of the nation and maybe the world has already been severely altered by you.
The trouble is, time is running out. It takes but a second for disaster to strike. Remember Rwanda? As I assume you know, it was started by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali and soon before anyone could stop it, the genocide spread throughout the country with staggering speed and brutality. Previously law-abiding citizens were incited and encouraged by local officials and the Hutu Power government to turn on their neighbors. Sound familiar?
Or what about the lost second that was a mere five years between when the concentration camps of Auschwitz were established to when Hitler took his own life? Or who can forget the widespread ethnic cleansing that accompanied the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995?
None of these experiences should be ignored. It is time you take responsibility for your role in inciting this violence. Your time in office has dramatically heightened tensions and damaged our democracy.
Is this the legacy you want to leave behind? Your children’s legacy and your grandchildren’s legacy? On the road you are on, old friend, the Trump name will come to be regarded in American history as a wannabe dictator who surrounded himself with bigots, white supremacists and money-hungry wolves.
If you do not change your course immediately, you will go down in history as the great divider, the destroyer of the environment and the antithesis of everything we as Americans have fought so hard to call ours. You have put in place many people whose mere presence is racially charged. Others who are there only to empower the rich at the expense of the poor.
Everyone has darkness in them and everyone has light. For all of us, this is a constant battle — but the one who wins is the one we feed. You can begin to feed the light. The racist, bigoted movements you are feeding now are gaining power by your words, actions and refusal to hold people accountable for the destruction they are causing in your name.
Racial tensions are rising, as is the Resistance. Their clashes have just begun and there have already been casualties such as Heather Heyer on your watch. Tensions are only going to reach more of a crescendo and more blood will be shed. And the people will blame you, and rightfully so. There are not two sides to a Nazi or a white supremacist, Donald, and you know damn well what you said on Tuesday was horrendous.
The good news for you is you are still in office. You can turn this around. You can beat down racists and bigots, you can stop putting money into coal, stop destroying our environment, stop worsening climate change by empowering the factory farming industry.
And for the love of all that’s sacred, you can stop tweeting threats to North Korea that may get us all into a nuclear war. You can find your highest self. You can become conscious. Scripture tells us the Donald I knew — or an even greater Donald — is still there inside you, sleeping. It is time to wake him the f— up.