To my unborn daughter, due mere days after Donald Trump is elected:
I imagined yesterday that I would be writing a much different letter than this one. I imagined I would write about how you’d never know any reality except for that in which a woman could be elected president. I imagined I would write about how we had shattered the ultimate glass ceiling and how you should take that as a sign for yourself of all the great things that you are capable of. I imagined I would write about how this election should teach you that love trumps hate, that ultimately humanity proves itself to be overwhelmingly good, that the cruel and crass people in the world may shout and make a ruckus but truth and beauty inevitably make themselves heard.
Instead I must birth you into the nation of President-Elect Trump. A nation ruled by bigotry and fear, hatred and ignorance. A nation in which a wealthy white man can brag about sexual assault, target religious minorities, demean entire races, and still win the American presidency over a qualified female candidate.
Last night and this morning have proven gut-wrenching not just for me but for some of my closest friends and for so many others. I have cried about eight separate times in fourteen hours: I cry for my gay friends who worry about the validity of their marriage, my minority friends who fear for their safety on the street, my transgender friends who dread entering a public restroom. Because, you see, Donald Trump is only one man, but he was elected by almost 60,000,000 other people. People who live among us and believe in his bigoted rhetoric.
My heart breaks when I realize you will spend the first four—if not eight—years of your life in this scary reality.
I watched Hillary Clinton’s concession speech this morning. Her running mate, Tim Kaine, quoted William Faulkner: “They killed us, but they ain’t whopped us yet.” And Clinton went on to remind us that if we love our country we must work every day to make it better.
“Please,” she entreated us, “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is. It’s worth it.”
Honey, I have to apologize to you. Last night as I cried myself to sleep, and again this morning when I cried on the couch with your father holding me against his chest, I felt hopeless. I felt that I would (almost!) prefer not to bring you into this kind of world, the kind of world in which Donald Trump tells us Muslims are terrorists and Mexicans are rapists and qualified women still can’t be president. I felt that President Obama’s last eight years might as well have never happened because so much of what he’s worked for might now be dismantled. I wondered what it all was even for.
And dear daughter, I’m still struggling. Part of me still wants to cut our losses on the house we just bought so we can move to Europe and forget about this nightmare election.
But I also know that Hillary Clinton is right. Making the world better is about more than just voting every four years. It’s about the ever-constant fight to educate the ignorant, to empower the oppressed, to love the opposition, to awaken the apathetic. We can strive for these goals in our smaller, daily interactions as well as our larger, ongoing contributions.
Maybe we have something still to accomplish in the United States. Maybe this is the place we can make a difference.
Your father and I have agreed that we could have done more. That we could be doing more. We have pledged to do more from this point on to make our voices heard and to improve the world around us. We don’t yet know what these efforts will look like—only that we have to do something.
I hope that we can raise you to actively stand up against hatred, against oppression, against that which you know to be wrong. Befriend the bullied boy in your class. Walk beside the girl who feels unsafe because of her skin color. Accept and defend your classmate’s gender identity.
Hell, run for president.
You are my hope. You are my light. I believe that you can and will bring goodness into the lives of others. I believe that you can achieve whatever dreams you may grow to have. I believe that you have the capacity to love people who look or act differently from you. I believe that you have the potential to change the people and world surrounding you—this very world that has taught us to be so cruel.
Donald Trump has won the presidency; he has not won the country. In fact, he has not even won the popular vote. Remember that. A lot of people voted for him, but even more voted against him.
And although you will not come into an America with its first woman president-elect, I cannot wait for you to arrive.
I promise to do my part to make this world worthy of you.