Thank you, Donald Trump, for making me an activist.

Dear President Trump,

It pains me to address you as such, but I can be respectful of your title long enough to write this letter. I am writing to thank you for the life-changing act you’ve bestowed upon me, little by little, in the last several months. You see, I do not consider myself an activist. At least I didn’t until the election results came crashing into my living room and I cried myself to sleep, wondering what would come of this country, this world. So it was you, Mr. President, who made me an activist.

I’m not actually proud to say that. I should have stood up for those who needed me long before you came along. I should have stood for Treyvon Martin and Sandra Bland and all the others who were lost in the sea of racism and violence. I should have stood up for those who need better healthcare options, for those who need sanctuary from the horrors they face every single day, for those who need rehabilitation, and mental health counseling. I should have stood for women’s rights, those with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA community in person, not just behind my Facebook or Twitter page. I should have marched with those who feel silenced, and I should have done it long before last weekend’s Women’s March.

After the election I felt lost. I lost hope. I lost faith. I lost any optimism or privilege I had floating around inside of my head.

But now, Mr. President, I’ve had it.

I am from West Virginia, the Mountain State, the state where you have promised coal jobs to return and money to start rolling into the poorest of this country. But I have some shocking news for you, Mr. President — you cannot grow more coal. We need a new resource, a new plan, or else our beautiful, majestic mountainsides will be flattened out. I have seen Mountaintop Removal with my own eyes. That is not a scientific myth or hoax. You spent months spreading hatred and division, firing up the most forgotten in our country and getting them angry enough to vote for you on your promise for jobs, but I do not believe you will keep that promise without sacrificing something sacred in the process — our land. I believe if you do bring jobs into my state, you will do so at the expense of our water, poisoning us from the inside out, and that is not something I can stand for any longer.

As a woman, of course I feel threatened by you. Your rhetoric and language throughout your campaign was shocking, but not because I’ve never heard such words. That is precisely why so many women are terrified — because they hear that every day. They are abused, demeaned, sexualized, and silenced, and now their leader is just one of many who behaves the same way. I cannot even go to my local grocery store without being harassed. “Damn, honey, you look fine this morning,” or “Bitch, smile when I compliment you,” or “I’d tap that, come take a ride with me.” When was the last time someone demoralized you in public, Mr. President? Or better yet, when was the last time you went to the grocery store on your own?

Just as it is incomprehensible for me to understand your pick for Secretary of Education, it is difficult for me to understand how you will help so many of us when you’ve literally never been in our shoes. It’s difficult for me to see how you are going to level with us, to understand us as a nation, when you are so busy signing executive orders that make you more money. We know that you are financially invested in the Dakota Pipeline, Mr. President. We are not stupid or blind. We see you. We see where your heart really is.

As a straight, white, cisgender, Christian woman in this country, I know I have privilege. I know I can never comprehend what it is like to be a woman of color, or a LGBTQIA woman, or a disabled woman, or a Muslim woman, or all of the above. I will never know that level of fear. But I want to be there for them and fight for what is rightfully theirs as a human being. You see, this is no longer about party affiliation or politics, it is about the human race. We the people — the diverse people, the different people, the outcast people — are what makes this country great. I know I will mess up, and I know I will have to constantly check my privilege, but I know where my heart is. As long as I remain focused on this fight, the fight for others, the fight for my future children, the fight for this earth, I know I will be doing the right thing while I am alive on this earth.

So thank you, Mr. President. Even though I waited too long to stand up, to be brave, it took you being elected to get me here.

You made me an activist.

Sincerely,

Kayla Q. Dyer

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