An Open Letter to Trump from a 17-Year-Old Brown Girl

by Pranjal Jain, Guest Writer

Photo by Alisha Barday (@alishacaptures)

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am writing to you to share my opinions and to make my voice heard. I doubt you’ll hear my voice though, because you are a victim of selective hearing. You only listen to those who share the same privilege, gender, and skin color as you.

My name is Pranjal Jain. I am 17 years old. I am female. I have brown skin. I spent the first seven years of my life in this country undocumented. I am a minority in many aspects, but my opinions are of the majority.

It seems as each year of your presidency passes, you continue to spread hateful rhetoric. You may not realize the unleashing potential and effects of your actions as President because, let’s face it: no one really cared what you did as a businessman. However, as President, your actions hold immense sway. It has been three years since you’ve held the ultimate office of our illustrious nation and in that short amount of time you have: normalized sexual assault-- whether that was your obvious condoning of grabbing women by the “pussy” or your urging the approval of Justice Kavanaugh; criminalized and defamed all immigrants; and infringed on women’s reproductive rights. As much as you tried to make your State of the Union a spectacle displaying all the great things you’ve done for America, to me, it sounded like a list of how you’ve f****d America and its people over.

My biggest grievance from the State of the Union was your unrelenting begging for a wall to protect Americans from the evil, illegal immigrants. Firstly, not all immigrants are criminals, and with your constant references to the immigrants that have supposedly infiltrated our country and increased crime rate and human trafficking, you are embedding the notion in Americans that all immigrants are outlaws. Why would you shape immigrants as that? In an immigrant nation, if the leader himself uses such hateful rhetoric, divides are bound to be created. While you fight for a wall between Mexico and the United States, you should know that you have already created mini-walls across the country. The walls an immigrant puts up to hide from hateful glances; the walls a native creates to avoid truly understanding immigrants-- they are all your creations.

Congratulations, you can declare mission accomplished.

Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash

These missions, however, have ruined the lives of so many. I won’t speak on behalf of the many across the country who are obviously suffering more than I am. I want to talk to you about how your actions affect me. Like mentioned before, I was undocumented for the first seven years of my life. However, I didn’t know that. I had no idea that coming to this country was a struggle for me. In fact, I found out two years ago.

Two years ago, my dad’s friend shocked me with her question: “Don’t you remember when you were an illegal immigrant, Pranjal?” It was at that moment where my life truly took a turn.

It’s crazy to think how ten words changed me. I felt a true sense of clarity. I no longer felt obliged to try to assimilate into American culture because frankly, I wasn’t just American. I was Indian-American, and knowing that I was an immigrant strengthened my identity and desires. I finally felt more willing to embrace the dual cultures I grew up with. For the first time, I wasn’t ashamed of talking in Hindi in front of my white friends. I wasn’t ashamed to listen to my Bollywood music while on my way to school. But more importantly, I felt a new sense of purpose.

I began to empathize with immigrants more. Anytime I heard a snide comment about immigrants or a painful story, I took it personally. I wanted to help people who were like me. Not knowing my origins left me confused for so long, and everyone deserves to know who they are and where they come from. With a more defined identity and purpose in life, I finally felt belonging in this nation.

Today, I am a citizen. I grew up never knowing I was an illegal immigrant and thinking that I was 100% American. Yet, Mr. Trump, your comments still hurt me. You force me every day to hide my identity just in case some anti-immigrant person discovers my past and attacks me for it. You normalized spiteful immigrant rhetoric. You make me ashamed to be an immigrant. However, there is immense power in being an immigrant. There is power in having a different cultural and geographical past shaping you. We are not how you attempt to paint us to be. We deserve justice and representation, and as surprising as this may seem, I have begun to feel better represented recently.

You have taken America back 50 years, but along with the reversal of the clock, you have inspired some badass people to make their voices heard. I am 17, and I feel well represented by young activists and young members of Congress. I am a female and looking out and seeing the sea of women wearing suffragist white made me feel empowered.

The United States has a long way to go until I, and those like me feel genuinely represented, but we have made immense strides. America has a habit of rising from adversity, and your presidency has been our most recent obstacle. The troublemakers and rebels you have inspired will be the future of America, and I cannot thank you enough for awakening our powerful spirits. Because in times of turmoil, there always rises the heroes and heroines.

In Resistance,

Pranjal Jain