08/13/2014 12:07 pm ET Updated Oct 13, 2014

A Letter to America

Dear America,

As an African-American male, the last few days have been filled with deep thought. Every day I watch the images of Ferguson, Missouri and I struggle to come to terms with a community dealing with such a great loss. Yesterday, I decided to release a letter to the people of Ferguson, Missouri. While I knew that decision would spark some controversy, I received love from so many people that shared my sentiment. I was not surprised that I immediately came under scrutiny and received much backlash. Many were furious with my remarks and I was reminded once again of the hatred and bigotry that still lives on in our country. As an African-American, I felt that I had a great responsibility to speak up. From a child, I have always been taught that with great power comes great responsibility. This was one time that I could not keep silent. While this may be just another tragedy to some in this nation, this story has been replaying in my mind for days now. Michael Brown was just like me. He was a man of great promise with an incredible future in front of him. However, that promise will now never be fulfilled. A family that was just days away from seeing their son go to college is now planning a funeral. A community is outraged and still we have no answers. In this moment, I realize that hatred and bigotry is not the answer. While my heart is heavy and my soul deeply disturbed, I dare not trivialize this situation. We have truly come to a tipping point in America. The people of Ferguson are demanding answers and demanding justice! Enough is enough! How many young African American males will we see murdered? How much potential will we see die prematurely? How many amazing young men that will never get to unleash the greatness within them? America it is time for something to change. It is time for a nation to rise up and say not on our watch! Not on our watch is not just a cute cliché. Not on our watch must be the battle cry of a nation! I'm speaking to fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and every socially conscious human being. I'm urging you to lay your differences aside and assess the situation. Put yourself in the shoes of the family of Michael Brown. Imagine if this was your family member. Imagine the deep pain and void this family is feeling. I can't even begin to imagine how deep that pain cuts. Every day they are struggling to wake up from a horrible nightmare. Every day they are looking for answers and struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives. Now is a great time for America to have a conversation. Many are outraged at what was done. However, I want to shift the conversation to what can we do. I believe that vigilance, accountability and socially conscious dialogue can set us on the course to change. In this moment, we cannot allow bitterness and rage to set back race relations in this country. We must remember at the end of the day we are the human race. As Dr. King so poignantly stated, I dream of a day when we will live in a country where a man is not "judged by the color of his skin but the content of his character." America this is a crucial moment for this nation. We cannot heal all wounds. However, we can begin to use our collective voices to make a difference. We don't have to agree on everything. The experiences of each culture are unique. However, I do strongly believe that we can celebrate our differences and unify as the human race. To pull the covers over our heads and avoid reality is denial. We will have to engage in very uncomfortable conversations. Now is the time America. Love and understanding can tear down walls of separation and unite humanity in a big way. Let's work together and make a difference!

Written from the Heart,
Jamelle Sanders