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Letters About Literature National Winners 2008

Honorable Mentions, Level 1: Sarah Jenkins

Dear Mrs. Taylor,

"Racism is man's gravest threat to man—the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason." This quote by the author Abraham Joshua Heschel rings loudly in my ears. Nothing is more devastating than bearing hatred because of the color of your skin, because of the skin color God gave us. I admire your book, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, because you had the courage to write about and expose a topic so wounding. I can personally relate to the struggle against racism endured by the African American people in your book. Sadly, racial prejudice exists here in my home—here in Hawaii. But, instead of white people mistreating black people, some Hawaiian people mistreat white people, Hawaiian versus Haole.

"Haole" is a racist label spewed out hurtfully like the "N" word. It's what the Hawaiians call us, not the other way around. "F@#!ing Haole!" Piercing and plunging, daggers stab my heart when I hear them call me that. From verbal reminders to visual reminders, signs of hatred line the highways of Molokai.

Provoking controversy and plaguing my island, signs of hatred glare at me everywhere. All these hate signs due to a piece of land called La'au owned by a company called Molokai Ranch. This company wants to build two hundred homes on sacred land. Opposing and protesting, the Hawaiian people are against the building of the homes. But, instead of signs that say, "No to La'au" or "No to development," they say, "Haoles go home" and "No to 200 white houses." These visual reminders stare at me every day on my drive to school. Just because I am white does not mean that I agree to development either. This is my home, this is our home, this is Molokai—regardless of race.

Receiving hate and racial comments feels horrible and disgusting like vomit. It STINKS! Your book confirmed my thoughts that no one should judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character and personality of their soul. That's all that should matter. My best friend is half Hawaiian, half African American. Even though we have different color skins, we never tease one another. We're heart sisters from the inside—forever friends. She gets called "black girl," and when I'm around her we get called "Oreo." It is very sad that people are ignorant and say thoughtless words. You have to ignore stupidity and walk away. That's my advice. Maybe someday I will write a book about our friendship that propels beyond the boundary of skin color.

P.S. I'm a huge fan! Keep writing and doing what you do best.


Sarah Jenkins