Dear America


Dear America, my wish for you on your birthday is… the truth. I want you to be able to look at your past in full — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want you to face the fear and shame that might emerge from facing such facts. I want you to acknowledge the emotion of that: anger, embarrassment, sadness, and more. It might hurt, and that pain is ok. We should not run away from it. When we face the pain and the truth, we can integrate them into a more full story of us. We can heal.

America, I want you to experience real love. When you love another person, you want to know that person completely. You embrace the broken parts. You comfort the sad parts. You learn from the mistakes. You take them down off some pedestal of perfection and see them for the human they are, love them for the full person they are. You don’t just love the parts of them that make you feel good about yourself. That’s not loving a person. That’s using a person. I want the people of the United States of America to love America, to know her fully, to acknowledge her achievements and her failures. I want us to love us, hold us, heal us so that we can become the America we’ve always been capable of.
Love is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Happy birthday, America. I love you.


Baratunde Thurston holds space for hard and complex conversations with his blend of humor, wisdom, and compassion. Baratunde is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. He’s the executive producer and host of How To Citizen with Baratunde which Apple named one of its favorite podcasts of 2020. Baratunde also received the Social Impact Award at the 2021 iHeartRadio Podcast Awards on behalf of How to Citizen with Baratunde. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time.” Baratunde is unique in his ability to integrate and synthesize themes of race, culture, politics, and technology to explain where our nation is and where we can take it. To learn more visit

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