CODA, Letter to President Barack Obama

(Photo by Sophia Guida, Standing Rock, September 2016)

(Photo by Sophia Guida, Standing Rock, September 2016)

CODA - Letter to President Barack Obama | If last week I smiled, this week I cried. Not sure which drop was the last drop that kicked it out me, but inspired by T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men and during my sleepless night of Thursday I wrote. And, a letter to President Barack Obama came out of me, which I sent to The White House and the Council of Environmental Quality on Friday morning. Later in the afternoon, I recorded myself reading it - Listen: 3 minutes and 50 seconds long. Below the letter:

Dear Mr. President,

What a wild, wild world we have in our hands these days. My heart is always with artists because no one like them to express quagmire. I think you feel the same way. T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” says it best right now. It’s epic last line, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper, resounds as imminent.

So many things ailing the world, and Lord knows there are many, and I know you are very cognizant of what these ailments are. I was relieved to see your segment on Now This. I can tell by your countenance that you are exhausted, Mr. President. And I feel you. I am with you. The enormity of all that is unfolding is simply mind boggling. But I have a grievance that I must express to you.

The situation ensuing as a result of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is to me the most telling of metaphors, at a global scale. I am dismayed and embarrassed by the lack of urgent action, by our government, in condemning such appalling behavior against the Native American Nations. It strikes me cold to see a wide disconnect between your administration’s claims to support climate change and environmental policy to save humanity, and the allowance of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, at this particular time in the United States and world history.

Time and again we learn that pipelines crack, explode, and spill to the cost of human life and to the detriment of Mother Nature. As I see it, this is no longer about one water reservation at stake. Overall, in the big scheme of things, we the people have nowhere else to run.

We are all being bullied and the stench of the feces of greed is asphyxiating us slowly, slowly, slowly. The other issue emerging out of our mess is white supremacy. Terrifying. White supremacy appears to be alive and well by the looks and sounds of this disgraceful presidential election campaign. The succinct example in all its glory, seeing the Bundys get acquitted while we watch Native Americans get punished.

And so it has come to pass that Lady Liberty’s robe has torn at the seams by thousands-of-thousands of people grabbing on to it in the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. But Alas! The wind is blowing, Lady Liberty’s robe has unfurled, people are falling, and our dirty ass is showing for everyone to see. A whimper indeed.

Respectfully yours,

Soldanela Rivera López


Woman of color


Puerto Rican

U.S. Citizen


+ Photographer Sophia Guida came to my life a couple of years back and I'm a better woman for it. She is poised, shy, courageous, bright, and with an incredible sense of humanity. In late September she took off from the Bronx by bus, with a group of people, to Standing Rock. Here some of her pictures…

#IStandWithStandingRock, #ClimateChange, #BeforeTheFlood, #SOS, and#IamWithHer,



Soldanela Rivera