DMO goes to DC: A love letter

We love you, Demario!

We love you, Demario! Buy this photo
Toni Wang

 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 7:09pm

If you attended first year orientation at the University of Michigan between 2013 and 2017, you know Demario Longmire. You may not have had the opportunity to meet him, be graced by his soul soothing voice or held in one of his pain-releasing embraces, but you remember him. Because Demario has the presence of no one you have met before. He seemed to glow on stage, emit an energy which made you feel, for a fleeting moment, that being at this school would be OK. Maybe even good. Tuesday night, I watched Demario perform at his second-to-last first-year orientation show. Though my brief moment of being at peace with attending this university has gone, my deep love and admiration for Demario has grown every day since.

I said goodbye to Demario yesterday afternoon and wanted to jam pack everything I have ever loved about and appreciated him for in a short half hour and a journal I got him in China with cartoon pandas on it. I realized that was impossible, and also that I should try and let him know these things every day. When it comes down to it, I think one of the greatest gifts Demario has given me is a sense of belonging. His empathy permeates the world around him, and I feel as though he can build community just by walking down the street (perhaps because traveling around Ann Arbor with him is like traveling with a celebrity and we are stopped at every block).

One community that Demario has worked to build is Michigan in Color, and some of us who have been able to be part of it wanted to send him off to D.C. with the words he taught us to dig deep for. He always emphasized that we work to share our most authentic selves in our stories, to do so boldly and unapologetically. We are so grateful that Demario was, and is, part of our stories, and we hope that we can express even an ounce of our gratitude for him.

Demario, thank you everything you are and embody. You are a light! I love you, I miss you, and I’ll see you soon.

—TONI WANG, 2016 

 

CHRISTIAN PANEDA, 2017

My first encounter with Demario was during my first year at the University where he and other now-former MiC editors interviewed me for the position of Senior Editor. I was a very insecure wreck prior to and during the interview. Even during the beginning of my MiC career, I was still really nervous. I was very unsure of myself and thought I was brought on board as a weird stroke of luck. However, I had someone like Demario to help guide me and alleviate my fears rooted in imposter syndrome. He welcomed me with open arms my first time in the newsroom and continued to do so every single night. His humor and wit, not to mention excellent shade skills, are things to be admired.

I would like to reiterate what others have been saying that Demario Longmire is an incredible human being, and I am very thankful that I had the privilege of working with him at Michigan in Color, let alone occupy the same physical space as him. People like Demario give me hope.

Dear Demario, thank you for being the kind and wonderful human that you always are. You and Toni have truly inspired me to be a better advocate and all-around person. If not for you, I would not be motivated to use my voice to help others, because you’ve done so for countless individuals including myself.

 

NEEL SWAMY, 2017

Demario has been an invaluable presence throughout my time at The Michigan Daily. He is not only willing to share his experiences with other MiC Editors in an empowering way, but also demonstrates a fierce commitment for social justice, diversity and inclusion. His ability to identify the strengths of everyone he works with renders him an amazing person to be around!

 

ADAM BRODNAX, 2017

Demario is one of those human beings who can beautifully make sense of anything. He is incredible at turning every conversation into a vulnerable shared moment where you feel you can be at home. One of the most moving moments I’ve had the honor to share is witnessing his ability to create magic spaces, particularly at Open MiC night this past winter term. He has such grace with his words and is able to fill any room with vitality and compassion. I am so grateful to have been able to share breaths with him, even with the short time we had.

Demario, I wish you nothing but love and happiness wherever you go. I hope that D.C. is everything you need it to be and more. I am so humbled to be a part of something where you left an indelible mark with your words, your soul and your magic.

 

AREEBA HAIDER, 2017

Demario, you are such a wonder in my life. I had heard incredible things about you before we ever even met. Every time I saw you living your life, literally just walking around campus and emitting light and sunshine and hope and happiness everywhere you went, I thought to myself, “wow, wouldn’t it be cool if we were friends?” And then a miracle happened, and I met you at Espresso Royale when you were hanging out with one of my friends. You pretended to think I was funny, told great stories and were just an incredible source of contagious enthusiasm. A week later, I interviewed to be a MiC editor, convinced more than ever that it was a space I wanted to join.

Demario, your compassion, intelligence, honesty and commitment inspire me to be a better person. Ann Arbor has been blessed with your presence, and I can’t wait to see the incredible things you create and accomplish in D.C.

(I’m also going to use this opportunity to publicly ask you to please hang out with me when we are both in D.C. for the next semester so that you can’t say no. Be my friend! Continue to bless me with your presence!)

 

ASHLEY TJHUNG, 2017

So much of my social justice journey can be attributed to Demario. When I first began at MiC, I was an anxious first-year unsure about my place in the social justice community and afraid that I did not know “enough.” Luckily, I had Demario as a guide. Every time I saw him, he imparted new wisdom and knowledge in a style all his own. His love for communities of color is evident from every interaction, and I know that wherever he goes in life he will continue to be the inspirational, positive and abundant force that everyone at MiC had the pleasure of experiencing.

 

JASON ROWLAND, 2017

Last weekend, I was visiting Camp Michigania when I thought I saw you from across the room. To my surprise, there was a pile of booklets with your image gracing the cover. Above your face were the words “For the Best Michigan” — and no title would have been more appropriate than that. For the past few years, you’ve worked tirelessly to make this campus a more inclusive and accepting place. When I turn on the news and get swallowed up by the negativity surrounding us, I find comfort in the fact that people like you still exist. Please keep up the fight, because it inspires us all to do the same!

 

SARAH KHAN, 2015

When I think about Demario, the first thing that comes to mind is his voice. When Demario speaks, you can feel every word travel the distance between. I've always marveled at how every word seems to have presence and how even his laughter is elevated (not to mention his incredible singing abilities). I hope that as he moves from Ann Arbor his rich laughter will fill every space he's in. I'm thankful for his companionship as we worked together, and as I was learning to come into myself. I'm grateful that MiC got to pass through Demario's hands and get some of his magic — it, and myself, are all the better for it.

Demario, I wish you nothing but light and happiness on your next journey. Much love to you always.

 

GABY VASQUEZ, 2015

I will always be grateful to Teresa for encouraging me to contribute and, eventually, apply to become an editor for MiC, not only because of the amazing experience it was to be a part of such a powerful space, but because of the beautiful people I ended up forming such strong connections with. Among those is, of course, Demario. Demario, aka my ray of sunshine, aka actual, pure ball of joy. Demario whose words never fail to inspire me, whose hugs never fail to lift my spirits, whose smile is legitimately contagious. Demario, you are one of the most phenomenal, talented, brilliant, genuine, kind people I have ever ever met and I'm eternally blessed to have you in my life. Wishing you the best luck in all that you do, and I cannot wait to see you in D.C.!!

 

Sarah, Ryan, Gabby and Demario

Sarah, Ryan, Gabby and Demario Buy this photo
Gabby Vasquez

 

ALYSSA BRANDON, 2016

Dear Demario,

When I met you, I was an incoming freshman at new student orientation. There I was, anxious, nervous and afraid sitting in God-knows-what auditorium on North Campus. And, there you were, on the stage, singing that cheesy rendition of “The Victors” that everyone loves. So full of life. Clapping your hands. Dancing around. Looking at you and all the joy and spirit you had made all the anxieties I felt dwindle for a moment, and I could actually visualize everything being OK.

The spirit you had back then hasn’t changed. You’re always so optimistic, supportive and down for having a good time. I will miss seeing you on campus and yelling at you from across the street like we are in the middle of the city. It was so nice to have someone who I could be unapologetically authentic with like that, even when other people were watching and looking at us like we were crazy.

Your passion and sincerity is what has really impacted me the most. So much of your writing and work has really resonated with me, from your personal statement “To Be Fat and Black” to the very emotional (but extremely necessary) speech you gave the night of editor-in-chief elections. All the words you’ve spoken and written have charged the hearts of so many and have truly helped us all see and understand the world in a new way. If you’ve ever doubted it, please rest assured, your work has really made a difference.

I appreciate you so much for welcoming me to MiC with open arms when I needed it the most. Throughout my four years at the University, I really struggled to find a community that embraced me as I was. MiC became that place for me, and that was in part because of you, your kindness and your compassion. I will always be grateful to you for providing a safe space for me to flourish, not only as a writer, but also as a human being.

Demario, you are truly a wonderful person, and I am so blessed to have had the pleasure of getting to know you. I’m not sure what the next chapter for you will be, but I know whatever you do, it’s going to be at least just as amazing as you are (which is pretty amazing).

Wishing you all the best,

Alyssa Brandon

 

SABRINA BILIMORIA, 2016

It’s impossible to capture Demario’s essence in words. Demario is such a genuine and authentic person, it is inspiring and refreshing to work with him. Demario is a strong leader because he is always more than a leader, he is a dear friend to everyone he works with. You can always count on Demario for fun times, an honest opinion and unwavering support.

Demario, Sabrina and Toni

Demario, Sabrina and Toni Buy this photo
Sabrina Bilimoria