Dear President Trump,
To begin, a cursory message of courtesy and kindness. Congratulations on obtaining one of the most powerful positions in the entire world. A lot is in your hands now, and being an optimist, I’m going to hope for the best. After all, that’s all I can do, right? It’s all any of us can do.
I should start by introducing myself. My name is Vanessa, and by all the means of your campaign, I fit the bill of what a perceived Trump supporter should look like. I am a white girl, born into a family that has lived in the United States since the 1600s, with middle class working parents, and dreams of an America that is united, strong, and able to protect not just itself, but it’s allies.
For all intents and purposes, yes, the statements above are true, but they are not all I am defined by, and no, Mr. President, they are not all you are defined by either.
You see, as you took office, you targeted a demographic a lot like mine. The “forgotten white people” so to speak. Those that live in the great mesh of the middle of the United States, who believe that in past elections, in all the social movements and change, they have been forgotten. It’s “their” country after all that’s been stepped on, right?
So you took this idea and ran with it, and most people were able to forget that for the majority of your life you grew up in a privileged household in New York, going to military academies and voting for the most part, as a Democrat. Still, you ran as a Republican, won the electoral college, and here we are.
I want to make it clear that I’m not writing to argue on your election, Russian hacking, Democrat interference, “Crooked Hilary”, or anything along those lines. I’ve not gone to a protest asking you to step down, because I do feel that since you were elected, you are owed some kind of respect. I am not here to ask you to take down your Twitter page and focus on being a president, nor am I here to tell you all of the things I like or dislike about you, I am simply here to give you a message; a message that I hope as your presidency evolves, will become more and more real to you as you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.
President Trump, the America you are trying to recreate, does not, and should not exist anymore.
Yes, I understand your claims about those in the central United States that have been ignored, “the common man” who has struggled for the past eight years under a Democratic president phishing social changes and environmental protection policies that have cost him his job.
Yes, I understand your claims about the need for a stronger border protection and patrol, as the amount of illegal immigrants in this country puts a strain on it’s citizens.
And yes, I understand why in an economics sense, allowing two additional pipelines to come into the United States from Canada is a good idea.
However, Mr. President, you have forgotten that not all of us in the group of “forgotten white people” feel the same way. In the executive actions you’ve taken in the past few days, you have begun down the path that I feared more than anything else for your presidency.
You have begun to divide us even further.
The issues of racial, gender, and environmental equity and inequality have long been pieces of American history that many of us have tried to forget. Our history textbooks skim over the horrors of the Japanese Internment Camps, or the truth in struggle and fear involved of the Civil Rights era in the 50’s and 60’s. Mr. President, we skim over these issues simply because like any white Americans, we have chosen “not to see color” and have resolved ourselves to painting away at any “blemishes” that we find on the face of American history.
In your Inaugural Address, you made mention of the phrase “America First.” A curious one I thought, considering the connotation behind it’s meaning. You see, America first was originally used back in World War II, as a non interventionist party. Though it seemed good at first, over time, it was realized that as a global powerhouse, America could simply not afford to be only focused on America. The key to being a successful nation lies in the cooperation and understanding of PEOPLE, domestic and abroad. In the times of today, we do not have the ability to shut down and hide away from the world, focusing only on our internal affairs.
We cannot afford to become a selfish country.
We cannot allow ourselves to sit behind a wall and block the whole world out.
We cannot be okay with building oil pipelines that stretch across lands that are sacred to the men and women that were here long before you and I even set foot on this land.
We cannot choose to ignore that 2016 was the hottest year on record and continue to destroy the Earth in seeking our our capital gain.
We cannot refuse to trade or interact or understand cultures simply because they are different to what we believe in, simply because we don’t want to see it or because we believe that we are the only one’s that can be right.
Mr. President, I want you to think bigger for a moment, beyond your own agenda and out into a universal one. Yes, I said universal. What is the reason that we, the human species are here?
Yes, some would argue to find power and money, to gain affluence and influence, which is a stance I think you would agree with. I am sure that the majority of your broken and battered supporters would too. We are all looking for some means of wealth and success, as it’s been expressed to us since childhood in the United States that without obtaining this wealth, we are nothing. We are not individuals without the masses crowded to support us.
But others would argue that the reason that we as a species are here is to love, take care of things that are important to us, and speak our minds about things that matter. Silence, when kept between lovers, a speaker and their audience, and even a little white girl and the President of the United States, is silence that prevents progress and change from occurring.
So I, in this letter, am refusing to be silent. Just as there are so many others, refusing to be silent.
Silence is just about as good as covering your eyes and pretending that you can see all of the tragedy and destruction on this Earth, simply because you have the privilege not to have to look.
We, as a nation, and you as the president, have to understand that making the world better doesn’t start with more capital, more infrastructure, and more of everything else. Making the world a better place stems from seeing the issues like white privilege, environmental degradation, and women’s rights, as they are. Unfiltered, raw, and just as brutal as they are. We cannot understand anything if we do not see it in it’s entirety, just as nothing will change for this nation as a whole if you do not remember that you are in a country you lost the popular vote for and your current agenda seems to offer up reasons why you did.
Because, Mr. President, if you don’t realize any of this, one day you will be sitting at that desk in the Oval Office, and look out onto a country that will have done nothing but rebel and fight against you. You will look out at a country that has realized the foolery in your ways, and is tired of following a leader whose actions mirror those of the past that we should no longer be living in.
You will look out on a country that has outgrown you.
Here is where your choice resides, Mr. President. The choice to listen, understand, and look at all sides of the story, instead of just your own personal one. Listen to the people that have cried out for change in the streets of Washington, and listen to those crying out of the past begging this great nation not to make the same mistakes.
They’re all waiting, they’re all watching.
And they will not be silent if you fall short.
Neither will I.