DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Our nation at an inflection point, a letter to the community

From the President: Our nation at an inflection point, a letter to the community

A. Gabriel Esteban
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

I write today as an immigrant and Asian American who has called this land of promise home for the past 33 years. It is the country which gave my wife and me the opportunity to transform our lives through higher education. It is the country where our daughter was born, raised, educated, and where she and her husband are building their lives in service of others.

The United States I know is a country filled with individuals with big and welcoming hearts. From generous donors who made scholarships available to students like us, to the kind oral surgeon who cut his bill when he realized we were struggling students; from the many individuals who kept the food pantry at my alma mater stocked for students in need like us, to the many people in the small towns and cities we lived in who welcomed us into their communities, and to my mentors who helped shape my career: they will always have our gratitude. All played a role in helping us achieve our dreams.

More than most countries, the United States has been viewed as a big cultural mosaic of people from around the world. More than any country, we have been indelibly strengthened by the diversity of ideas, faiths and cultures.

However, the past few months and indeed the past few years, have yet again shattered the image of this great land of promise. From the murder of George Floyd to the massacre in Atlanta, attacks on people of color have escalated. While I am not fearful for my own safety, I find myself constantly worrying about the safety of my wife, daughter and our friends of color.

I am also painfully aware as Asian Americans, we will always be seen as outsiders by some.

Being called derogatory names face-to-face, yes, even in Chicago, is a fact of life. Being told to go back home is confusing — where is home? Being called an affirmative action hire is not unusual. Being comforted and told to ignore comments by racists is a lot easier when it is not directed toward you or your family.

I write this message now because I believe as a society we are at a tipping point. Since moving to the United States over 30 years ago, I have never before seen this country as divided as it is today. As with other inflection points in our history, it is time to make a stand for what we believe in as a nation. Are we a country that judges the worth of its citizens by the color of their skin? Are we to be judged by our faith? Are we to be judged by our gender or sexual orientation? Are we to be judged by the size of our bank account? Or should we be judged by who we are as individuals, revealed by how we live our lives?

Through all of the challenges, I have found comfort in my favorite Scripture passage: “So faith, hope, love remain… but the greatest of these is love" ​1 Corinthians 13:13. I have faith that there are enough people of goodwill who will stand up and join me in condemning all acts of violence and hate towards people who are different from us. It is my hope that we commit to treat each other with dignity and concern, because I believe that, in the words of St. Vincent de Paul, “love is inventive to infinity."

Maraming salamat.​