A Letter to the Attorney General
Note: This letter was addressed to former Attorney General, Eric Holder a year after his resignation.
Dear Atty Gen Holder,
A little over a month has passed since your resignation was announced and I have to say I'm extremely disappointed and disheartened. However, it's not you who I direct my sentiments towards... it's myself.
Three years ago, almost to date, I had the honor of meeting you and holding a brief conversation after the dedication of the Malone-Hood Plaza at the University of Alabama. I'd just walked off stage after barely getting the last few lines of my speech out-- "I am here today, because you were here yesterday." It was a testament to the gratefulness I had towards these three pioneers who integrated my now alma mater. I couldn't disguise my quivering voice or hold back the tears in my eyes. I was truly overwhelmed by the opportunity to recognize them and their survivors, in person, for their contributions.
At this point you might be wondering where you come in. The moment the ceremony was over, you made your way over to me and said "Never apologize for showing your emotions." Your comment shocked me for several reasons.
- I was so quick to step back from the podium to gather my emotions after my statement that I didn't even realize people heard my faint "I'm sorry."
- For a highly ranked public official, constantly under scrutiny by the media, to remind me that passion and emotion are never weaknesses was one of the most powerful pieces of advice I've received.
- You approached me. It didn't register until months later, but it was your humility and approachability that left a lasting impression.
Although it was not my intention to discard your sincere words of encouragement, I have to apologize again. I didn't follow your advice. Not right away. I went back into filtering, guarding and disguising my emotions as a means to protect myself from what I perceived as vulnerability and to avoid humiliation... and it's gone on for years.
A few times I've opened up, stated my peace and expressed by discontentment or frustrations only to retreat back into my "safe" space, holding on to my heroism until the next media exposure of injustice ran across my line of view. The truth is, there have been numerous instances-- micro-injustices as I call them-- in between the media controversies where I've stood by silently. I rationalized that if I didn't speak my mind then I didn't have to feel apologetic about my opinons. The exact opposite has proven to be true. The more I filtered my feelings and subdued my emotions the more entrapped I felt.
I understand why I have to remain diligent about sharing who I am and Im finally understanding that what we say and how we say it aren't as potent if we filter out our emotions.
You may not get a chance to read this, but if you do, know that I didn't forget what you told me that day. It's been one of my biggest ongoing challenges, but I'm going to continue to fight to find my voice and speak about not just my beliefs, but my unadulturated feelings, without fear of shame or embarrassment consuming me.
Coresa Nancy Hogan