This is a runner-up in our Teens Against Trump essay contest. Read more essays from the series here.
"So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again."
I was at the beach when I heard these words come out of Donald Trump's mouth. And I smiled. I mean, the guy is a businessman. From what I knew, he had never had any political experience in his life.
So I went back to life. Time passed. The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. "Deez Nuts" declared a run for president, something I took as seriously as Donald Trump's announcement.
And then... the media.
Channel after channel, news station after news station, article after article, every word was plagued with: TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! And as if that wasn't bad enough, we might as well have said that SARS mutated into the "Trump Disease." At school: "... Oh, didn't Donald Trump say that?" On the street: "... And Donald Trump..." At the dinner table: "Donald Trump said earlier today..."
And I gave him credit. He was smart. He got nearly all (if not all) of America's media outlets to follow his every. move.
But in all of his political rhetoric, Mr. Donald J. Trump may have forgotten that America is not composed entirely of cisgender, filthy rich, white men. That we haven't all had the luxury of going to "the best schools." And most importantly, that we don't all confuse xenophobia with patriotism. There is nothing "patriotic" about proclaiming to ban and ostracize people because of their race or faith.
If only closed minds came with closed mouths...
Mr. Trump has forgotten that America is made up of thousands of different identities.
Much of America isn't as privileged as Donald Trump is, and whether or not he forgets this will never change the fact that I never do. The hashtag "#IfIHadTrumpsMoney" validates the fact that for many of us, the life Donald Trump lives is a dream.
America is not free of racism and discrimination. We, as a nation, still have a long way to go in terms of equality. Women are still paid only 74 cents for every dollar a man makes. People don't believe Islamophobia is a "real thing." The necessity of "#BlackLivesMatter" is constantly and daily combated with "All Lives Matter," brazenly showing that many still believe white privilege to be a mere fantasy. In so many states, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals aren't protected by their law, or can get married on Friday, and fired on Monday.
But, this is not to say that we haven't made progress. Because we have -- and are still making -- progress. Remarkable, beautiful progress that gets us one step closer to a more just world every minute of every day.
One man, no matter how rich, should not be able to pit us all against each other. We cannot backtrack into an even more hateful society.
And as Zig Ziglar said, "You must manage yourself before you can lead someone else."