“What about the 14-year-old me or the kids who look like me…?”

Actor and producer Kal Penn spent the weekend turning the “negativity” of Donald Trump’s immigration ban into what he calls “a positive.” Penn raised over $500,000 for Syrian refugees using a crowdfunding page that urges donations “in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America.” During an interview Monday with CNN’s “New Day,” Penn explained that during a time when people often act out in a mean-spirited way online, he wanted to give them something to do that was inspiring. “The women’s march was a great example of coming together and standing up against the tyranny that we’re experiencing now. Look, I’m a pretty privileged guy,” he acknowledged. But he read negative comments online and thought, “What about the 14-year-old me or the kids who look like me who don’t have the luxury of this kind of platform. Maybe we can raise $2,500 to show guys like that we’re better than this.”

Kal Penn could have decided to be just another shallow Hollywood star primarily concerned with his press clippings and his next project. Instead, he put his acting career on hold to work in the Obama White House. In the wake of the continuing fiasco and embarrassment that is Donald Trump, Penn’s decided to use his platform to speak out.

Penn IS America, the same way I’M America and so are YOU. He represents and stands for those who don’t necessarily look, think, and/or believe as the White Conservative Christian heterosexual power structure does. It shouldn’t be and “us vs. them” situation, but that’s the environment created by `the White Conservative Christian heterosexual power structure. I suppose you can do that when you believe yourself to the manor born…and that America is by rights the property, playground, and purview of “your kind.”

Kudos to Penn for trying to create a positive counterbalance to the drumbeat of negativity, hatred, and discrimination. As an intelligent, reasonable, well-spoken AMERICAN, Penn is uniquely suited to the cause he’s taken. I hope the “kids who look like” him will take some inspiration away from his example.

America is still a land of opportunity, despite the negativity which has overwhelmed the zeitgeist. It’s not about working to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain…because America’s never stopped being great. It’s about making America great for ALL Americans, not just the ones who were born on third base and convinced themselves they hit a triple.

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