“Dear Xenophobia,

I know you’ve been very busy as of late, so I waited a little bit before writing my congratulations on being named as Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year, joining the ranks of recent winners like “identity” and “vape.” So congrats!

I know, I know…you’ll play the humble card and say you didn’t deserve it, that it’s mostly based on internet popularity and not merit. But in 2016, trust me, you earned it! Own this accomplishment, because you only get it for this year, kind of like Miss America.

Sure, you’ve had a long career leading up to this. I mean, you’ve been in the business since almost the beginning, before we even knew what to call you. Like a lot of our language, we had to smush together a couple of Greek words just to give you a name. And I know you’ll be around for a long time hereafter, so don’t think of this as a Lifetime Achievement Award like an aging musician or actor. No, if there’s one thing that you’ve taught us this year, it’s that you’ll be around for a long, long time.

I’m not going to lie. I was a bit disappointed when I heard that you had won out over other contenders. But when I think on the past year, well, it makes perfect sense!

You’ve influenced the fall of Aleppo and Brexit. DREAMers are scared out of their wits. Governor Abbott has taken our great state out of the refugee resettlement program. That’s quite a lot in one year. So you are quite accomplished indeed.

And I need to thank you personally too, even though we’ve never been close. I need to thank you for making me aware of so much going on around the world that I might otherwise have remained blind to. You’ve made me keep my eyes open. You made me cry even. You made me pray for people I will never meet in lands I will never see. And for that, I can be grateful.

I hope you enjoy your achievement as Word of the Year and the attention it brings you, but don’t let it go to your head. Because there is only one Word that lasts forever.




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