Dear President Trump,
We’ve already established that American history is not my strong suit. I could never keep dates and places and people straight when reading about grand happenings in the remote past that seemed to have little to nothing to do with me. But I did read lots of biographies. People’s stories and the historical context in which they took place were much more accessible. I read about people I could relate to, namely all the women and people of color. I never read the ones about the presidents or male explorers who “discovered” or “conquered” remote regions, though learning that Albert Schweitzer moved through the jungle extremely slowly so as to not inadvertently step on an insect had me moving very slowly around my neighborhood in Portland for several months when I was 10 or 11. I was most curious about people who managed to become doctors or scientists or writers without the benefit of having their person-hood sanctioned by the state. How did they have the wherewithal to be curious about the world beyond their immediate circumstances and to believe in themselves when they didn’t see any people like them venturing outside the confines set by society?
Even as a child I was aware the people who had biographies written and published about them were exceptional, that they’d somehow beaten the odds and were remarkable in ways most all the rest of us were not nor could ever hope to be. But they gave me hope and a sense of possibility. In February during Black History Month at church everyone took a little slip of paper and on each slip was the name and a short statement about a Black person who discovered or created or did something remarkable. There were some familiar names, for sure, but there were dozens and dozens of names none of us (mostly white people) had ever heard. It was incredibly moving. And I wish it hadn’t been so moving. It should just be a given that Black people (and women and Native people and…..) are as talented and as likely to have done cool things as white men. But that’s not the world we live in. Yet. We have a long, long ways to go, but a more perfect union is in the works and it can’t help forming.
May we all be safe and free.
May we all be happy and engaged.
May we all be healthy and vital.
May all our lives unfold and intersect peacefully.