In fall of 2016, I was in school, and very pregnant. For one of my writing classes, I bonded heavily with my professor over our hate for Trump and the way the world was becoming. She was a younger white woman, and she focused the entire class on African-American studies, writings, and the turmoil that (whether we are willing to admit it or not) affects you simply because you have been born with dark skin.
One of the books that we read was Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you haven't read it I suggest you go out and buy it right now (click here.)
We also analyzed the poem of the same name, by Richard Wright. The poem paints a chilling portrait of an African-American man reliving a brutal death by means of a lynch mob.
But I digress.
The book is an amazing story, written in the style of a letter from father to son. This is what inspired my final essay. I wanted to write a letter to my unborn son, telling him my story of how I decided to vote for the first time, and my own inner turmoil of the realization that this misogynistic reality TV star was going to be the leader of our country. As a mother of a boy, I am the woman from whom he will learn about respect; how to treat women and his fellow man.
Seeing the photos of "the wall" prototypes has me chilled to my core. So I'm finally ready to share this piece with the world, or whoever is willing to read it.
I'm sorry I've been so MIA lately. I promise that I'll be more present and posting.
Thank you all so much for sticking it out with me, and for continuing to read my posts!
My Dearest Roman,
Exactly forty-two days after I turned twenty-five years old, I stood in the long line of a middle school polling station for two and a half hours, before, for the first time in my life, casting my vote for who would be the next President of the United States of America. I had been old enough to vote for many years; in fact this had been the second presidential election that I had been legally allowed to vote for. However, I had stood out the previous 2012 election. I had never gone to vote in any yearly local elections, and I was not even registered to vote, in either California, or my home state of Arizona. When friends and family asked me if I was voting, I would say no, I don’t vote. My reasoning, whether logical or not, was that I didn’t feel I was well enough educated to cast a vote that mattered. That if I did vote, it would only be for who was most popular with my friends, or who my parents whom I admired so were choosing to vote for. But, forty-two days after my twenty-fifth birthday, I stood in line, and I voted for Hilary Clinton against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
An interesting thing happens when you become a parent. Now, when exactly you become a parent differs. They say for a woman it happens when she becomes pregnant, and for a man it happens when his child is born. Your father and I both felt you were ours long before we knew about you. With that said, when you have a child, your sole life’s purpose seems to revolve around protecting them.
The year leading up to the 2016 election was quite a peculiar year for myself regarding my development of interest in politics. When I, like many others, first heard that Donald Trump was campaigning to run for president, I thought it was a joke. Trump was a reality television star, not a politician. He was known for lavish spending, trophy wives, and grand extravagant buildings with five golden letters plastered across the top. This could not possibly be a man that anyone in their right mind would consider as the leader of our country. Nevertheless, the months went on, and Trump’s popularity became more and more vastly unanimous. What had started out as the thought that this televised prank would be over soon, became the reality of the thought “could he actually win?” Before I knew it, Hilary Clinton won the people over against Bernie Sanders, and was being named the Democratic Party candidate. The first time a woman had ever gotten so far in a presidential race. At this same time, Donald Trump was being named the Republican Party candidate, against whom, I can’t even recall. It didn’t matter, Trump was running for president. It was real.
September 26, 2016. The day before my birthday. The day of the first presidential debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. I remember thinking that I must have accidentally put on the wrong channel, and that I was watching the Saturday Night Live parody of the debate, instead of the actual debate itself. Watching Clinton and Trump bickering side by side did not seem like a debate between presidential candidates but rather like a mother and child arguing over getting the reluctant child to eat his vegetables. The tone of the debate was petty and senseless, and our first female candidate was not the one setting the tone. Trump continuously interrupted, yelled, and scoffed at not only Clinton, but also the moderator of the debate. Any opportunity to lash out was taken by Trump. But the end of the debate, holding back tears at the realization that this man-child hybrid could be president in a few short months, I looked at your father and declared that I was registering to vote. I would not stand by and do nothing when my vote could possibly make a difference, could possibly keep Donald Trump out of office.
Sometime in the days leading up to the second presidential debate, a leaked video was released from 2005. It documented Trump talking with a fellow male celebrity, about what Trump would later call “locker room talk.” The details, I would prefer you not learn until you are older. What I will tell you is that they were beyond degrading towards a particular woman, but in reality they were degrading to all women. He joked about sexual assault like it was nothing. In light of the leaked video, many women came out with allegations that Trump had sexually assaulted them throughout the years. I was convinced that this was it for the Republican candidate. No American would vote for a man who was openly racist, and now had publicly been proven a misogynist. He spat on every ounce of growth that our country was able to be proud of, from the destruction of segregation to women’s rights.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 was one of the most suspenseful days of my life. I left school early to vote, and I went home, to the house you will be born into, I sat down on the couch with your father, and we watched and waited. I voted for Clinton, not only because I simply didn’t want Trump in the White House, but because Hilary Clinton becoming president would mean such growth for this country, for our people. When Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States of America in 2008, the nation changed for the better. The first black man elected president. Barely fifty years prior, a black man couldn’t swim in a public pool. When a woman made it so far in the election, I felt pride and hope that there was nowhere to go but up. As I watched the results of the election come in, a cold wind seemed to blow through the door; Donald Trump was winning. I grasped desperately onto the final remaining chance of Clinton winning the election, but I fell asleep before the final results were in, but unwillingly knowing that she had lost.
What broke my heart the most was the back track of our country by deciding to elect this man as our president. In my lifetime alone, America has made some of its greatest progressive strides. I have seen the first African-American president; I have seen gay marriage legalized nationally. Both of these conquests would have been unfathomable before my generation. But while I have been alive during great victories, I have also have been during great losses. I have seen police brutality know no end. I have seen terrorists bomb races and crash planes into buildings. Trump becoming President Elect is one of those losses. We were on our way to greatness, and I strongly believe that Hilary Clinton becoming the first female president would not only have been good for our country because she would have been a great president, but because electing a woman would have been another step forward in our country’s growth. When Trump was elected, he gave hatred hope. Men who shamed their wives and made racial slurs about their Latino neighbors were given hope. They were shown that what they did was not that bad, because even our president has done that and much worse.
My darling son, you are a white, American male, likely blonde haired and blue eyed like your father, being born into the presidency of a man who claims that American needs to “be made great again.” But the problem with that is that America has never been as great as it is now, not for anyone except possibly white American-born males. Your greatest challenge in this life will be fighting the thought that since you are what people would call privileged, that the difficulties of the rest of your people don’t apply to you. But you always have to remember to think of yourself as more than that. You have to think of yourself as a human being. And as humans, all of us deserve the same rights, the same courtesy, and the same respect. My mother, your maternal grandmother’s family came from Greece not 60 years ago. They fought for rights as immigrants in a time when Americans did not like outsiders. My grandfather was darker skinned, and on more than one occasion, mistaken for a black man and harshly treated because of it. When his wife birthed light-skinned babies, he thanked god because they would not have to face the incivility that African-Americans in the 1950’s had to endure every day of their lives. This was not a great America. It was great for some people, but America should be great for all who reside here.
Some people may try to trick you into believing that you are privileged because of the color of your skin or your gender. Do not let yourself be fooled. Because regardless of the tint that covers your body, the inside is no different from anyone else. You would know no difference if you looked at the heart of a white man next to the heart of a black man. For both hearts would pump the same blood, red, no different color than the opposing organ. In your lifetime, you will form close bonds with other humans. Friendships will form, and one day you will fall in love. I don’t know now who you will love. But it will not matter. It will not matter if they are a man or a woman. It will not matter if they are light or dark-skinned. What will matter is that you love them, and that you loved them because of their beautiful beating heart that is no different than mine or yours or anyone else’s. You are a man being born into a presidency of a fellow white male who wishes for the world to return to archaic times. What that means is that you will have to fight even harder to be a good person. You will have to stand up to others who belittle someone because they feel they can, because if the president can do it, why can’t they? You will have to protect any brothers and sisters we may give you, and remind them to love unconditionally, and respect their fellow humans. I am sorry if this seems like a burden I am placing on you, but I know that you will excel, and be someone who sees past skin color, gender, or sexual orientation. I ask you to be a man who spits on Trump’s ideals of a great America, and I ask this of you because I know you will be able to see through the bullshit of people who think that this president is the best thing for our country. I know in my heart of hearts, that one day you will be the kind of man who knows to take a step forward, when the rest of the world takes a step back.
Loving you forever,