I am white. I am American. Neither of these did I choose.
I think of becoming my identity along the same lines of seeds taking root. Where a seed will land permanently, depends upon such factors as which way the wind blows.
My daughter, who is six, randomly asked me if I liked Donald Trump.
“Where did you hear that name?” I ask curiously.
“Barbie Life and the Dream House,” she replies matter of factly, “Oh, and Meme’s TV.”
“Are you going to vote for him?” She continues her questioning.
“No,” I answer.
I take a deep sigh while looking for the right response. “I am not so sure he is a very nice person.”
“He looked nice on TV. Why don’t you think so?”
I carefully articulate a response because before me is an impressionable child who is passionate about people, and a person that I do not want to politically influence. So I proceed like this:
“I believe in friends who look different than me, who worship differently than me, and who believe differently than me. Collectively, they make me a better person. Collectively, they have taught me things I wouldn’t know without them. Collectively, they form my personal melting pot. America is a melting pot. And I don’t think Trump believes in a melting pot.”
My best friend since fourth grade is Sikh Indian. She didn’t choose to be.
My friend who stood by me when I was pregnant and scared is undocumented. She didn’t choose to be.
My friend who was instrumental in getting me through a heartbreak is Mexican. She didn’t choose to be.
My friend who listens to me vent everyday is African American. She didn’t choose to be.
My friend and teacher to my daughter is Peruvian. She didn’t choose to be.
My friend who brought me flowers on my first Mother’s Day is gay. He didn’t choose to be.
My friend who is the keeper of my house key because I like locking myself out, is adopted. She didn’t choose to be.
I could continue, but my point is what they all have in common is that at the end of the day, they have no say so as to where their seed was planted when it took up with the wind, but they still see me, my white American self, as their friend too.
I was moved by Michelle Obama when she spoke about living in a house that slaves built. In turn, I was confused when O’Reilly commented on said slaves being well fed.
What makes this comment necessary?
O’Reilly would vote for Trump. And this is why I answered my daughter the way I did. I am proud to know my daughter can live in a country where any person of color and gender can be president.
I want to embrace the American melting pot. I want to teach my daughter to do the same. I’d feel I had failed her to teach anything else.
And those slaves, Mr. O’Reilly spoke about, they didn’t choose to be.