On June 1, Village Green published an essay, “Dear White Neighbors, Stop Being Defensive About Race,” by Sri Taylor, a junior at Rutgers University studying communication with a specialization in public relations. Taylor is also a 2018 graduate of Columbia High School and was raised and currently lives in South Orange.
In the essay, she asks that white neighbors not make the current moment about themselves, but instead listen: “So when black people are expressing their anger, confusion, and pain, don’t twist the narrative and take it as a personal attack on you as a white person. This is not the time to victimize yourself. While you cannot understand what we’re going through, you can respect that this is bigger than you and your feelings.”
Taylor had originally published the essay on the Facebook group SOMA Lounge NJ, where she received overwhelmingly positive response from the community.
About a week after publishing on Village Green, Taylor received an anonymous letter in the mail at her home address in South Orange. She immediately shared it with Village Green as she considered how she would respond and what actions she would take. Taylor says she was initially “very upset,” and very unsettled that the person sending the letter knew her home address.
The letter writer states, “Your racist rant reveals you to be a silly little black girl with a great big chip on her shoulder” and goes on to call Taylor “low I.Q.” and “sociopathic,” among other things (read the letter below).
Village Green reached out to South Orange Township leaders to make them aware of the letter. Taylor has decided at this time not to contact police about the letter. After several days of thoughtful consideration and consultation with her parents, Taylor posted the letter and her response on SOMA Lounge, where she again received overwhelmingly support as commenters expressed their outrage at the anonymous letter writer’s “cowardice” and “racist” views.
Kerry Kleedorfer Martin wrote, “I am so sorry that you just received this garbage. Whoever wrote this should be ashamed of themselves.”
Kari Capone commented, “WHAT THE ACTUAL F–K. Sri. My god. You are such an incredible person. Thank you for posting this. We need to see it.”
Wrote another, “The implicit threat here to a young black woman is clear. The writer is telling Sri that they don’t like her message, they don’t like her expressing it, and they know where Sri lives while they remain anonymous. Terrifying message. This is awful.”
Giovanna Fernandes: “Sri this is enraging and completely unacceptable! How coward and utterly racist of this person to do this. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I support you.”
Ronni Brecher Schwartz: “Sri, I am so sorry you received this jaw droppingly horrible letter. I’m glad you shared it. Please know we stand with you.”
Read the Sri Taylor’s response to the anonymous letter she received in the mail to her home in South Orange here:
This is a letter that I received in the mail [see below], it was sent to my home address.
Although I was very upset at first, I quickly realized that this is exactly what I was referring to in my article. This is the kind of response I get from my white peers when I am expressing my pain and frustration as a result of racism— you deflect and demonize me.
This letter is a reminder that our town is not an exception. Although you reside in a “stigma-free” and “diverse” community, as white people you are still capable of contributing to the racist system— in fact, if you are not actively being anti-racist, then you are contributing by default. The author of this letter is your neighbor, in your friend group, or your brother/sister. This is what happens when you are complacent to the racism of your peers. It’s what happens when you don’t constantly speak up and call each other out when racist remarks are made in the absence of black people. Although uncomfortable, having these conversations is essential. It’s mandatory.
And to the person that wrote this letter with words that you copied and pasted from a Psychology 101 textbook (yes— I looked it up), the only things this silly little black girl has revealed are your lack of emotional intelligence, your racism, and your cowardice. I implore you to read a few books, then maybe you’ll be able to use your own original words when writing racist hate mail to a 19-year old. This silly little black girl expressing her genuine feelings on Facebook enraged you to the point where you took the time out of your day to send me a hateful letter in the mail. Self reflection is needed here. Your letter allowed me to make an example of you— and for that, I thank you.