An Open Letter to a Working Class White Woman
I don’t know who you voted for, but data suggests you voted for Trump. Data suggests that I, living in the blue-leaning bubble of Seattle, darkened the Hillary circle on my ballot. But none of that matters. The election is over. I truly hope the next four years will abound in American Greatness, but I don’t know what that will look like or how we will get there. I certainly don’t know how we can get there together.
Because I don’t know you.
True, we’re white women, you and I. We are mothers and daughters, aunts and sisters, grandmothers and granddaughters. We were both raised in dysfunctional families by imperfect parents, grandparents and caregivers. We, you and I, want love, stability and success, however that may be defined. We both care about our children and will fiercely defend them, sometimes to a fault. We want access to quality education and meaningful work where we can earn a decent salary. Regardless of whether you and I plant ourselves in church pews on Sundays, we both do our best to love our neighbors. We value loyalty and nature and family. Both you and I are still heartbroken by September 11th. We are both horrified by elementary school shootings. We both wish we had more vacation time. You and I observe our own bodies, amazed, as our knees creak, our tushes sag, and our hands resemble the hands of our mothers and grandmothers. We both like to laugh and feel beautiful. Sometimes we wish we were more beautiful. We both hate feeling misunderstood.
But we don’t see those similarities because we don’t ever cross paths. How would we? Why would we? Just the idea of it tires me. Where would we meet up? What would we talk about? And after a single, uncomfortable conversation over a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone, what would happen next?
Anyway, it’s much easier and more fun to focus on our perceived differences. We urban bubble-dwellers think you don’t care about helping others. You think we liberals don’t care about Constitutional rights, Made-in-America or the beauty of sweating on the job. We see you as drinkers of cheap beer. You see us as sippers of four dollar lattes. We think you don’t want anything to do with immigrants. You think we don’t want anything to do with white working class people.
On that last assumption, you may be right. But I don’t want you to be right.
So here I am: A former high school teacher, I now am a self-employed writer. I have two children, and most days, I feel ill-equipped to parent as well as I wish I could. I love God, and I struggle every day to be what He calls me to be. I have a loving and imperfect marriage. I curse too often. Guns scare me, though I have no interest in taking yours away. I worry about my kids’ future, and I worry about cancer, and I worry about how technology is changing us into people who are uncomfortable connecting in authentic ways. I love my dog. I love democracy. I love nachos with that bright orange cheese. I love America.
You might love, value, question and fear those things too. I don’t know you, but I’d like to.
Hillary Clinton, the candidate I voted for, called you deplorable. Others have called you ignorant. Some have called you stupid, foolish, naïve, gullible. Those words come from a place of fear. Those words are not OK.
I am fearful too. I worry about how the next four years, and years beyond, will impact those who live lives more fragile than my own. But you are not deplorable. You are not stupid or ignorant, naïve or gullible. You are my sister.
And I’d like to get to know you.
A Middle Class White Woman