An Open Letter to My Daughters on the Day After the 2016 Presidential Election:

To my brave, smart, imaginative and kind girls,

You are nine and twelve. For your entire memory, you’ve only had a brilliant, warm, funny African-American president, Barack Obama, and for this, I am endlessly grateful. For the majority of your childhood, you have experienced this amazing man leading a divided country and helping to better many people’s lives.

Over these eight years, you’ve seen it hasn’t been easy. You’ve seen protests. You’ve seen injustice and inequality. You’ve seen black women, men, girls and boys being killed for nothing but the color of their skin. And you’ve seen Barack Obama, our leader, our President, saying this is wrong.

You’ve seen plenty of good things too. You’ve seen Michelle Obama talking about the power of girls. You’ve seen people trying to fix the problems in this country, trying to find solutions. You’ve seen marriage equality throughout the country. And now, you’ve seen one of America’s smartest women running for President of the United States.

No, she didn’t win, my dear girls. I’m so sorry. I wish she had. Oh God, I wish she had. I wish you didn’t have to see this result. I wish I didn’t have to explain to you how Trump, who said so many hateful things, could have won.

I promised you he wouldn’t win. I told you I believed in the goodness in people. I said love would prevail.

I didn’t lie. I still believe in the goodness in people. I still believe love will prevail. Just, not yet.

I wish I could have shielded you girls from the hateful things that Trump said. I wish you never had to hear that word ‘pussy’. I wish you didn’t know that girls could be grabbed by the “pussy” without their permission. I wish this didn’t happen to any girls or women.

But now you know it does.

Sometimes men and boys do terrible things to women and girls, and those are just the facts. But you also need to know there are many more boys and men, kind and loving people who would never do these things. You will find these boys and men. Your dad is one of them.

You asked how could women vote against her? Sometimes girls choose the boys. As long as men have the power, it will happen. Don’t take it personally. People like to choose a winning side. It happened to Hillary. And it will happen to you.

If you reach out a hand to help other girls and women, as Hillary has done, your life will be much more joyful and fulfilled. And remember, she almost won. Younger people almost exclusively voted for her. The future is love. The future is yours.

You saw Hillary trying as hard as she could to become the first female President. She didn’t make it. She knocked at the door and it was slammed in her face. But this doesn’t mean she failed. She came very close. She helped us see that it’s possible for a woman to become the President of the United States. She helped us dream.

Maybe it will happen soon. Maybe it will take longer. Maybe it will be a girl you know. Maybe it will be you.

This loss just means, not yet.

My dear girls, you’re going to face a lot of ‘not yet’ moments in your life. You’re going to have a lot of people who want to slam the door on you. And sometimes it will be because you’re a female. For people of color, it is even tougher.

You will have teachers who give better grades to boys for no good reason. You will try to enter schools who accept more males than females for no good reason. You will have bosses who promote men for no good reason. You will meet people, both men and women, who prefer men, and therefore, they will say, not you, him. They will slam the door in your face too.

And you will stand in front of the closed door that has slammed in your face and you will lift up your fist and yes, you will knock again.

I wish it were easier. I wish I could tell you, no, girls, if you’re smart and you work hard, you’re going to achieve whatever you want to achieve, no problem. But I can’t tell you that. People are going to say no. People are going to tell you that there’s a better person for that job and that person will be a male. Usually a white male.

Along the way, people will give you confusing advice. They’ll tell you to be more assertive. When you are more assertive, they’ll tell you that you are too assertive. They will say, can’t you get along? When you get along, men will be promoted above you for their “leadership” skills. I wish I could tell you, don’t worry, just work hard. I wish I could tell you it was going to be easy.

It won’t be easy.

The truth is, you are going to have to work harder than any boy or man. You are going to have to put up with insults. You are going to have to knock on that door, and baby, if they shut that door in your face, you knock again. You hear me? You knock again.

Love always,

Your Momma

Written by

Author of TRAFFICKED (Penguin, 2012) and THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER (Disney-Hyperion, 2018), creative writing teacher and mom of two fabulous girls.

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