Dear Mr. Trump,
You ARE my president. I did not vote for you, but you were elected, and that makes you my president because I am a citizen of these United States. True, my ancestors tried to secede from the union in 1861, but the ancestors of others prevailed against them and kept us together. Not your ancestors, to be sure, because they immigrated long after the colonies declared independence and the southern states rebelled. But my ancestors were here for all of that and I have never lived anywhere else. So, when my fellow citizens cast ballots that total electoral college numbers making you the president without you ever showing us your income tax returns, you are my president. True, you have insulted many of my friends. You have insulted the Imam with whom I regularly share a morning cup of coffee while we discuss public events of solidarity and compassion for the people of our city. You have insulted my colleagues at work whose ancestors were kidnapped and brought to this country in the belly of a slave ship. You have insulted the lesbian with whom I have taken a Friday morning walk for the past five years and whose covenant ceremony I blessed when such ideas were still struggling to be normalized. You have insulted the refugee family with whom I helped fund and build a Habitat House so they could raise their children in safe, decent, and affordable housing. You have insulted my daughter, my mother, my three nieces, my sister, and me by routinely considering women as objects for your enjoyment rather than humans of equal worth to men with power and wealth. There are others, but I think you get my point.
As it turns out, not only are you MY president, you are their president, too. On this afternoon of your inauguration, having been sworn in as our president, we are calling on you to act the part. Be our president, too, because that’s how it works in this great democracy. We don’t have to vote for you for you to be responsible for our welfare. That’s your job now and you set the tone for how neighbors greet one another. By continuing to belittle women, you contribute to women experiencing sexual assault at rates greater than the current one in five. By continuing to insult African Americans, you contribute to the violence on our streets as they face unreasonable fear and misplaced mistrust. By continuing to deny the LGBTQ population full respect, you contribute to everyday discrimination on matters as simple as buying flowers for a loved one. By continuing to deny safe sanctuary to hard-working, tax-paying, undocumented immigrants in our country, you contribute to their forced return to life-threatening situations.
True, this vitriolic rhetoric helped get you elected, but now you are our president and we will hold you accountable for fulfilling the promises that are ours as citizens of this country. As citizens, we will stand by those who come to these shores seeking refuge just as your grandparents, your mother and your current wife, received the refuge that open the path for your presidency. Just think, my grandchildren and your great-grandchildren could someday cast a ballot for the grandchild of a refugee fleeing a worn-torn country and settling in a Habitat House after being welcomed as a neighbor in a foreign land. Maybe this person will even be a woman. May our land ever be the place where this dream becomes reality. Mr. Trump, be that president. It’s your job now.
You ARE our president,
Jennifer E. Copeland