A Letter to My Daughter on November 9, 2016

November 9, 2016

My dearest Eleanor,

It is a month before your second birthday, and you are sleeping in your crib. You don’t know this, but your dad and I have been awake pretty much all night (and for once, not because of you!). We have been awake, watching the election results come in for the 2016 Presidential Election. And it’s not good, baby. It’s really really bad. Donald Trump has been declared our next president. You’ll read all about this in your history classes, how Trump has vowed to hurt many of the people we love: our undocumented friends, our Muslim friends, our LGBT/queer family and friends, and more. He mocked people with disabilities and bragged about sexually assaulting women. And then he won.

People wanted to say that Trump represents the lowest common denominator of our country, a minority of uneducated, ignorant, and vengeful poor whites. But today we learned that wasn’t the case: Trump won among college-educated whites. In other words, people who had the education and knowledge to understand what Trump said and proposed—many of those people voted for him.

I don’t have the emotional energy to explain white privilege or systematic racism to a toddler this morning, but I need to tell you this: the majority of white women voted for Trump. That means that most white women chose to align themselves with the most powerful (and damaging) force: white supremacy. When you are older, you will have the same choice. And when that choice presents itself to you, I hope that we’ve taught you that your allegiance isn’t to whiteness but to your community. So think of mommy’s undocumented friend with the sweet baby boy, your brown cousins (one of whom is also LGBT), the two four-year-old twins next door who you adore (“hi boys!” you always shout eagerly when you see them). In fact, think of all our neighbors, almost all black and Latinx, who celebrated your first birthday with us. When you’re older, know that our community is beautifully diverse, and for progress to be truly made, we must be committed to supporting and advocating for each and every member of our community.

I also need to tell you this: white men and women voted overwhelmingly to elect a man who is a known, self-confessed sexual predator. They knew this and voted for him anyway. This shows us how many people have accepted and even embraced sexism, the idea that women are objects for men to claim. Right now, you are on the verge of two-years-old; you very loudly state your preferences for when and how to be touched. Sometimes, your stubbornness frustrates us, especially when we are crossing a busy street or trying to take your temperature. But safety issues aside, we want you to know that we respect your boundaries. Every time you say “no!” when I ask for a kiss, I applaud your confidence and self-awareness. When you’re older, people will try to chip away at your boundaries, try to convince you that you are unreasonable for knowing and expressing how you want your body to be treated. Those people are wrong. Those people are assholes. You are the sole owner of your body, and anyone who tells you differently cannot be trusted. Trust yourself, and know that your mom and dad will always support your bodily autonomy. And we will always believe you.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge that you probably see your dad’s and my fear today. You can feel our anxiety, sense our nauseous stomach, hear our shaking voices. That fear is real. That said, when I look at you, I see hope. I see a future generation that is defined by diversity. Still— I refuse to put this all on your generation’s back. I want you to grow up and see adults working fiercely and compassionately for your future, pushing so that your air and water will be clean, you and your friends will be safe and loved, and kids like you in other countries can go to school in peace. The revolution doesn’t begin or end at the ballot box: it starts in our hearts, our families, and our communities. And your dad and I vow to do everything we can to make our world a more loving place for you and your friends.

With all my tears, my love, my heartache, and my hope,

Mommy

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A Letter to My Daughter on November 9, 2016

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