Dear President-Elect Trump,
This morning I woke up and I wept. I wept for my country and for my friends who no longer feel safe in their own country. I wept for my grandparents who were raised under the oppression of segregation, only to live long enough to see the election of the first black president. I wept for your supporters, some of who I called friends who I no longer know how to speak to. I wept for the message that this sends to the world about who we are and what we stand for we. This morning I woke up and I wept.
After I had wiped away my tears I began to ask the questions that supporters of Hillary Clinton were all beginning to ask themselves. How did this happen? You called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. You talked about African Americans as if we all lived in a bad rap video. You promised to reimplement policies like stop and frisk that have had horrific consequences on my community. You played racial politics like a professional and fired up the scariest elements of your party. And now you’re the President-Elect of the United States. How did this happen?
When I woke up this morning I saw messages of love and unity displayed all over my timeline. It made me proud and reminded me what a resilient country we are. Unfortunately, I also saw messages of anger and hate. I saw messages of fear and concern for our future, and complete bewilderment at how the polls were all so wrong. I saw messages from teachers, asking how they’d explain the results to the children that they teach.
I saw messages from women, fearing what your administration meant for their bodies. I saw messages from friends and family asking if this means we are on our way back to the plantations. Stop and think about that for a minute. Now it’s your job to take the messages and form a response to address them.
We’re scared Mr. President-Elect. We’re scared of you, we’re scared of your supporters, we’re scared of what your victory means for our place in this country. We’re scared that your supporters are nostalgic for a period of history that allowed most of this county little to no basic human rights. We’re scared that everything our parents taught us about goodness and civility was wrong. We’re scared that our friends are really our foes and our future looks more like our past.
We’re scared Mr. President-Elect, and it’s your job to ease our fears. You’ve spent eighteen months talking about deporting Muslims and taking back your country. We have good reason to be scared. You may have won the electoral college, but you lost the majority of this country do it. If you plan on running this country like you ran your campaign, everything we were scared about will come true.
We will become more divided. We will become a tinderbox, exploding at every whiff of conflict or media-induced frenzy. We will become more tribalistic. Thankfully, you don’t have to be that type of president. You don’t have to be that type of person. After eighteen months of watching every speech, reading every column, and listening to all the coverage, I think I know who you are. I hope I’m wrong.
I hope that you’ll treat the office of the presidency with the level of respect it demands. I hope that you’re ready to be a president for all of America and not the man that questioned Barack Obama’s legitimacy and wished death on a group of falsely accused teenagers in a con for media attention. I hope that you realize that this office of the presidency isn’t about you.
I want you to succeed President-Elect Trump, I do. Not because I want your policies or messages to become part of our fabric, but because whether I like it or not, we’re in this together. But success means something different than the snake-oil that you peddled during this election. You won this election by dividing us, by playing on our fears and our insecurities. You brought out the worst in the country, and now your most important job is to fuse us back together. We’re an emotionally broken nation. The fog of political war is thick and doesn’t appear to be dissipating anytime soon.
If you really love this country like you say you do, if you really believe in our greatness, if you believe in the people that you’re destined to lead, you’ll reach out to the people who didn’t support you. There can’t be any more talk of building walls on the border of Mexico, we’ve got plenty of bridges that need fixing right here. There can’t be any more talk about locking up the journalist, or carpet bombing Muslim countries. There can’t be talk about limiting reproductive rights, or jokes about sexual assault. The time for flippant remarks is over, the words that you say matter. You represent all of us now.
I believe in our country Mr. President-Elect. Not just in a once a year, fourth of July kind of faith, but in a deep unwavering belief. I saw the smoke coming out of the pentagon as a teenager. I watched as my generation bravely gave their lives for their country, asking nothing in return. I’ve watched millions of Americans like me smothered by the burden of student loans and the costs of healthcare, but I still believe.
I’ve been called the n-word, been illegally frisked, been followed around a store, and wondered whether I’d survive a simple traffic stop, but still I believe. It’s hard to keep the faith, but I’ve always believed. I’ve always believed that in spite of all of our flaws, this country provides opportunity like no other before it. I’ve always believed that we weren’t perfect, but every generation was making progress. I’ve always believed that things would get better. I believed in us. I don’t know what I believe anymore, though. It’s not dramatic effect, it’s the truth. The results of this election have shaken me to my core. The only thing I am sure of, is that this morning I woke up and I wept.