Dear President Trump,
My friend Adam wrote you a letter a few months back. In fact, I think he wrote it the day before your inauguration. He wrote to you about carrying golf bags for rich people, pleated khaki pants, and the willingness of some to let others carry really heavy loads as long as their own load is light. Adam says a lot of ridiculous things, but that letter was rather kind and poignant, in just the way one should talk to the kind of person who lets a small boy carry his golf bag. I’m sure you read it, President Trump. Just like I’m sure you will read this one.
I don’t usually engage in Trump-bashing when it’s petty. I saw that viral picture in tennis shorts and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t even click the little laughing icon on facebook. I don’t share the memes or posts that have nothing to do with the policies you push, even though they sometimes make me laugh. I avoid posting clever take-downs on facebook that make fun of your tan, or your hair, or your insistence on wearing bad hats.
I try not to call you Darth Cheeto, even though that is a brilliant nickname that always makes me imagine that cheeto jesus, and how funny it would be if someone found a cheeto that looked like you with a Darth Vader cape.
In general, I try not to be mean. Sure, being mean makes me feel good for a minute, but never welcomes any conversation. If I say something mean to my wife in an argument, the fleeting moment of satisfaction is usually followed by her walking away and me realizing that I just kickstarted hours of guilt and self-loathing that ends with a humiliating string of apologies. But I assume you know all of this. You’re an adult.
In fact, I’ve tried not to think that much about your presidency. Honestly, I get an uncomfortable mix of angry and embarrassed. But as a teacher, I have to let those real feelings of anger and embarrassment filter through me until I can generate some kind of objective thinking. There is a place for anger, and I don’t want to discount it, but teenagers are usually decent at expressing that raw emotion, and less practiced at restraint.
Kids are pretty good at “fuck” filled rants like the one your communications director gave last week or, in my three year old’s case, flailing tantrums on the bedroom floor. They’re still developing that executive function that keeps us from flailing our fists every time we feel cornered.
I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking that this little intro is a waste of time. Objectivity is something the president should understand. Someone like you can’t act on emotion, fear, guilt, or revenge. The president can’t throw tantrums on the bedroom floor.
Of course, you know all of this.
You are, as I said before, an adult.
But this week, you and your DOJ made me want to stop acting like an adult. I kind of want to pound the floor a few times or drop a few f-bombs or blush-inducing phrases. It seems your department of justice thinks that white folks are getting slighted in college admissions. And even if that is not the case as they claim, they are still taking on affirmative action which is important legislation in a country that has made exclusion of minorities a systematic norm.
I get the most frustrated when you start to push on education because that is what I do each day. So when it seems like you are buying into the lie that is “reverse racism,” I start to get this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that tempts me to write an expletive-filled rant against that huge around the brim of that red hat that you and your fans wear.
It kills me in my profession, and really anywhere, when people make decisions that aren’t based on any evidence. As you can imagine, I had to rub my eyes a few times this week when I learned about the investigation into the kinds of flawed claims that were made in Texas a few years ago when a white girl claimed she was unfairly denied enrollment to the University of Texas. Or, the claims that Asian Americans are making at Harvard.
These are the kinds of reactions that I would expect from 17 year olds. When young people don’t get what they want, they often start to scream and yell. In the end, hopefully, adults step in and explain that the policy picture has to be a little more nuanced than a personal experience or heartbreak. We can’t make policy decisions based on anecdotes.
As individuals, when we don’t get what we want, it can be tempting believe that there is some great injustice pushing against us. But as a society, we have to make a habit of finding whose shoulders are bearing the real weight of injustice. Reverse racism has never been backed by anything other than a few individuals who are trying to make excuses for not getting what they want. The notion should offend us even if it is from our loud uncle at a family reunion, and should frighten us when it is being investigated by our highest justice agency.
Adults have to make decisions with evidence, not because our niece is crying about not getting into a college.
You know all of this, right? I’m assuming that you are telling Mr. Sessions to chill with his southern sheriff ego and to start fighting for people who are actually carrying a heavy load.
Thanks for reading this. Enjoy your 17 day vacation in Jersey. I'm sure we'll talk again, soon.