Brandon Stanton is a photographer and the man behind the beautiful and extremely popular Humans of New York Facebook page, which currently boasts more than 17 million fans. Stanton photographs and tells the stories of random New Yorkers on the street, humanizing them and painting a picture of all our common joys, pains, and similarities across racial, ethnic, religious, and ideological lines.
On March 14, Stanton wrote a beautiful and compelling open letter to the current GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Since then, the post has received more than two million “likes” and has been shared nearly 1.2 million times. Stanton explains fully that, while he avoids discussing his political leanings and prefers to stay on neutral ground in his work, he felt compelled to speak up against the hatred and violence currently being promoted and inflamed by Donald Trump.
Read that open letter in all its brilliance here:
‘An Open Letter to Donald Trump:
I try my hardest not to be political. I’ve refused to interview several of your fellow candidates. I didn’t want to risk any personal goodwill by appearing to take sides in a contentious election. I thought: “Maybe the timing is not right.” But I realize now that there is no correct time to oppose violence and prejudice. The time is always now. Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.
I’ve watched you retweet racist images. I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to “pay the legal fees” of those who commit violence on your behalf. I’ve watched you advocate the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families. I’ve watched you gleefully tell stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. I’ve watched you compare refugees to “snakes,” and claim that “Islam hates us.”
I am a journalist, Mr. Trump. And over the last two years I have conducted extensive interviews with hundreds of Muslims, chosen at random, on the streets of Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan. I’ve also interviewed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees across seven different countries. And I can confirm— the hateful one is you.
Those of us who have been paying attention will not allow you to rebrand yourself. You are not a “unifier.” You are not “presidential.” You are not a “victim” of the very anger that you’ve joyfully enflamed for months. You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power. And though your words will no doubt change over the next few months, you will always remain who you are.
There is never a time in which racism, misogyny, and xenophobia should stand unopposed. There is certainly never room for these ideas to be the ones that rule our policies or our country. Violence should never be tolerated.
For an interview with Brandon Stanton and to hear more about his amazing project, Humans of New York, see video below from ABC News: