Sunday November 13, 2016

Dear president-elect: You will not be invited to the conversation until you have made reparations

Chicana writer and feminist activist Cherríe Moraga.

Chicana writer and feminist activist Cherríe Moraga.

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​Cherríe Moraga is a Chicana feminist activist, poet and playwright at Stanford University in California. Here is her letter to president-elect Donald Trump, commissioned by The Sunday Edition. 

I gotta hand it to you, Mister Trump. 

You knew your constituents. You took the voices of hatred from your own head and felt entitled, as a white and very rich man, to say them aloud. The seething temper of your racism and misogyny induced some rightfully angry people to point a twisted finger at the wrong enemies. Because they'd rather see themselves mirrored in your face than in the brown and black faces of the poor. America was founded on that lie of bootstrap success and there is great shame among whites who can't even buy a boot. Anger is the mask of such shame. 

Amazingly, you even knew how to lure some people of color voters to betray themselves. In the secret site of that voting booth  Latinos, African and Native Americans filled in the slot marked "you."  Because they, too, were so damn tired of being so damn broke.  

But don't mistake me. The white middle class and educated elected you, too, in droves. For two obvious reasons: "To make America [white] again" and to repudiate a woman as president.

For all her critical clarity in those three debates, I was moved most by the fierce courage that it took Hillary just to stand at that podium next to a man whose physical presence is one of dominance and the erasure of women. On election night, I saw the young faces of those female Clinton supporters, when you were announced as their president. They broke down in tears. Because they had identified with Hillary's body as women. The way we had viscerally identified with Barack's body as people of colour.  

You have used misogyny and racial hatred to win hearts and minds. Nationalism and profit define your domestic policy.  And your foreign policy is a curious combination of bullying and isolationism. I want abortion to stay legal. I am terrified of an administration that barely believes in the existence of climate change.

The only good that can come from this is our own bitter reckoning that both parties have betrayed us. There is a counter movement that we must build, one in which each one of us has the courage to look deeply at what really motivates our political decisions. How willing are we to look outside the prison of our own privileges and through the deepest sites of our collective fears and sorrow, to arrive at an honest political practice for change?  We need representatives — from our neighbourhoods and to our nation — that have walked at least one genuine mile in our shoes.  

And P.S., Mr. Trump...

You will not be invited to the conversation. Not until you have made reparations for the brutal wounding of this country's Mexicans, Mujeres and Muslims and of all those who love us.

Sincerely,

Cherríe Moraga