Dear President Trump,
Soon you will be living (part time?) in Washington, D.C., where Hillary Clinton won more than 90% of the vote, and where, not surprisingly, you will not find many fans. There are those who would suggest, of course, that Washington, D.C., is just another urban bubble, ignorant of the realities of small town America.
I can assure you, however, that this is not the case. Many of us, including myself, come from a small town and know the struggles they face first hand. Others follow one of the finest American traditions coming from other countries to seek new opportunities, much like my own mother did more than fifty years ago.
I have never felt more of an American than I have living right here in Washington, D.C. Not because of the monuments, or the Congress, but because of the people — my neighbors. My Washington, D.C. is where Ben Ali, a Muslim immigrant from Trinidad, came with virtually nothing and over time built Ben’s Chili Bowl, one of our city’s most iconic restaurants. This city is a place where homeless LGBTQ youth arrive from other parts of the country with little more than a bus receipt, and have the opportunity to rebuild their lives thanks to the work of folks like Ruby Corado at Casa Ruby. My city is a place where undocumented residents can get a limited purpose driver’s license, where asylum seekers and refugees find sanctuary, and where transgender residents can get gender-affirming care. Most importantly, Washington, D.C. is a place where we strive to live together in peace.
We are not perfect, but it is here, working with the local community where I feel we are closest to that perfect union where everybody — yes, everybody — has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is the daily work of our fine city, and frankly for me and for countless others, this is what makes America great. I might add, we do it all without a vote in Congress (it’s called taxation without representation and it’s not fair).
I hope you take the opportunity to learn from your new neighbors, but if not, please know that we will not be divided. I consider an attack on any one of our fine citizens an attack on all of us, and I know other community leaders feel exactly the same way. We don’t know if you will go through with pushing for a Muslim registry. We don’t know if you will go through with your threats to start deporting undocumented residents on Day One of your Presidency. We don’t know how many of the executive orders protecting individuals from discrimination will be rolled back. What I do know is that we will resist. I know the “bubble” I live in is growing bigger every single day. And I know that ultimately, we will win.
The DC Center
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The opinions expressed in these letters are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations and this magazine, its staff and contributors.
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