As a little girl, one single image came to mind when I pictured the president of the United States of America. Now, as a grown woman, the same image has forced its way back into my reality. Today, America sent me an extremely clear message of what it means to be a woman, and my place in the world because of my gender. Today I learned that the United States of America– the country that is supposed to represent the pinnacle of freedom, opportunity, and equality– remains an oppressive state for anyone who is not a white male.
When I have children, I want my child to be able to imagine him or herself sitting in the oval office and becoming the leader of our “free” nation. More than that, I want my child to have role models of past leaders who represented the unique and diverse nation that is America. I want my daughter to be able to say, “I want to be a president just like she was.” I do not want my daughter to have the same single image of a president that I have. I want my children to feel safe and to feel as though they have equal opportunity to do as he or she pleases regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. I want my daughter to never hear the words, “She is so successful, she is so smart, she has done so well…for a woman.” I want my daughter to feel the success of her accomplishments or the defeat of her failures as simply a human being, undefined by any other social identifier that might be placed on her.
It is truly a sad day to be an American. It is a sad day to be a part of any community in which members are not white and are not white males. It is a sad day to be an ally, a friend, and a supporter. Let that support, those friendships, and those alliances not falter. Now, more than ever, it is important that we, as Americans, all 320 million of us who come from unique and different backgrounds, stand by each other. Let not the past 240 years of progress since the signing of the Declaration of Independence be a waste. For the sake of myself, my family members, by children and grandchildren, my friends, and fellow Americans, let any progress that has come remain. Let us not repress any progress that is surely, and hopefully, to come. Let future generations have more than one image of who can be and what it means to be president. Let future generations have more than one image of what it means to be an American. Let not one thing define us as a country and us as citizens. Let it and us be many.
In that same vain of acceptance, on of our greatest and most fundamental rights as citizens is freedom of speech. Do not repress the individual who voted in opposition. Do not shun the individual who holds a different view. Do not ask for equality if you are not prepared to give it in return. We are all equal and equally entitled to our own opinions. We live in a democracy and all of us, not just some, are entitled to the same freedoms.