Photo taken by Ela Koksal

Dear President Trump

You and I, we are both presidents of something. You, the President of the United States, and me, the president of my high school. Your confident, extroverted persona led me to write you this letter. Although I am not old enough to vote, I find it comforting that our freedom of speech gives me the opportunity to reach out to you. Despite the fact we come from different backgrounds, we have many things in common: our infatuation with social media, our day-to-day hair care routine, and our inherent nature to confront conflict.

The main difference between the two of us is how we interpret your slogan “Make America Great Again.” In your eyes, making America great is enforcing travel bans, eliminating the idea of climate change, and abolishing Planned Parenthood. Personally, making America great means accepting the LGBTQ+ community, empowering women, and accepting people for who they are. You are known to make snarky and irrational statements about minorities-women, immigrants, and people of color-and you may do this because you want to intimidate or eliminate those who stand against you. By now you should know that your position as president will not keep us from protesting or fighting for what we believe in. It will only empower us.

On January 20, 2017, you were inaugurated into office. About 900,000 people witnessed your oath in Washington DC firsthand. The next day I marched along with the 4 million people in the Women’s March that took place around the world. I was proud that people of different backgrounds joined together to oppose your misogynous and self-righteous attitude.

Within the span of those 24 hours, we both stood up and celebrated ourselves. Samantha Gordon, an activist from California, advocates through art. She marched beside me in January. “I’ve taken action to rebel against Trump by going to protests/marches, staying active about spreading the word on social media, calling senators, encouraging everyone else to call their senators, and most of all, staying politically educated,” says Gordon. As a young artist, she is a part of an activist art group where they “screen print signs for protests, discuss the history of protests and how art was used, and how art can help us with our aspirations to make a change.” By learning about the history and reasons for social movements, she hopes to educate and send a “wakeup call to Americans.” And she is not wrong. A study conducted by the University of Toronto and Stanford University shows that social movements are much more efficient to persuade large audiences because “self-identified political activists are willing to use extreme tactics because they believed them to be effective for recruiting popular support.”

I’m sure that after the Worldwide Women’s March you thought that the feeling of rebellion diminished. You even turned to Twitter the next day voicing your opinion about how those who protested did not vote. Six months after your inauguration, it is obvious that you are incorrect. An activist by the name of Lillian Lippold voiced her opinion at the LA pride march. “It was a place of beauty and hope. The injustice that had found its way into America was being fought with every single poster and slogan,” says Lippold. As a teenager, Lippold finds her way of activism through spoken word and sharing posts on her own social media accounts. Although she reaches a large audience with her creative expressions, Lippold says she has “lost many friends due to [her] vocalness on these issues.” Lippold does not regret the actions she has taken because “fighting for what is right is the best type of rebellion.”

Another controversial issue that many Americans disagree with you about is your statement that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese.” A local protestor by the name of Sabrina D. finds your administration’s actions regarding climate change “deplorable.” Sabrina participated in the global climate march in April, giving her a sense of “hope that we as a nation can move forward once the black cloud over our nation that is the Trump administration passes.” It is astonishing that you don’t believe any facts given by the NASA climate team, like the 8-inch rise of sea levels in the past two decades or the loss of 36.5 cubic miles of Antarctic ice since 2005. Reanna Norman, a teenage activist who feels that her input on social media empowers a large audience, strongly believes that your lack of care for the environment is “assisting in the destruction of this planet.” Both of these young activists fear for the future of our planet, and so do I. As an aspiring environmental journalist, I urge you to be more open-minded about these global issues.

Donald Trump, the number of hate groups in America has almost tripled since you were elected, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) recent census. We, as young activists, oppose the hate. But what will a bunch of youth opinions do for you? We hope to empower the American public with our creative outlets and our accessible social media accounts. We will do everything we can to educate those around us about national and global issues. And we hope you do the same.

As President of the United States, you must stop degrading the American people and start inspiring those who look up to you. I believe in your potential as a president, but you cannot shut out the voice of the younger generation. Help us empower, educate, and encourage acceptance in our country.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Naigan