Brandon Stanton started his Humans of New York (HONY) project in 2010, with a plan to take portraits of 10,000 New Yorkers and put them on a city map. The project took a somewhat different direction when Stanton started accompanying the portraits with short interviews of his subjects. It evolved further when he expanded beyond New York, collecting portraits and interviews from places as far afield as Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Along the way, HONY (through its blog, Facebook page, and Instagram account) has become one of the Internet’s best-known platforms for communicating the thoughts and insights of everyday citizens.
Having created a platform entirely about other people, Stanton doesn’t typically use HONY to voice his own opinions—but he made a big exception on March 14, when he posted an open letter to Donald Trump on the HONY Facebook page. It was shared by half a million people within three hours of its posting.
“Mr. Trump, I try my hardest not to be political,” the letter begins. But “along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.”
Referencing the violence and racism tacitly approved, if not outright inspired, by Trump’s hate speech, Stanton takes up a cause that has only recently gathered steam as the November US presidential election approaches: to stop Trump from running away with the Republican nomination. Stanton writes:
I’ve watched you gleefully tell stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. I’ve watched you compare refugees to ‘snakes,’ and claim that ‘Islam hates us.’
But, citing his many interviews with refugees and with Muslims from various parts of the world, Stanton rejects Trump’s characterizations, adding, “And I can confirm— the hateful one is you.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Brandon Stanton’s first name.