Dear President-elect Trump


This evening, after returning home from my job as an English instructor in St. Paul, Minnesota, I locked my keys in my car. I believe the reason for this mistake pertained to my haggard and undone emotions.

From my vantage point, your campaign included numerous emotional-appeal techniques. Over the last year, I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about why America is in a disastrous state from you and your campaign.

I teach my students logical reasoning and how to understand faulty arguments while avoiding emotional appeals lacking reason. Yet, at this moment, I cannot exclude my emotions when I have spent my day, merely three days after your visit to Minnesota, under duress while trying to explain to many students that no, they will not be deported to their violence-stricken home countries because you have been elected.

I assured my generous and resilient students they should not fear. I assured them all would be fine. I assured them that our government has many facets and decision-making policies. I assured them that words sometimes conjure fearful emotions; this is particularly true when negativity speaks first.


Our campus in St. Paul is one of the most diverse in the state. Many of our students are of East African descent. When you stood in that Minnesota airplane hangar three days ago, you suggested that idiots had created the space in which you were speaking. You had a better idea on how that stage should have been set, so you could be out in the light, away from the shielded dark hanger. Then, you proceeded to ask for support from students.

At that same rally, you also spoke about terrorism. I believe your implication that a population should be feared related directly to our Somali community in Minnesota and, sadly, to many of the students on my campus.

You have a new stage now, and in many ways, you will now direct others as to where the lighting should be set. We’re watching. We see. We hear. A well-lighted place should take planning, I agree. My plea is for you to conjure joy and hope when you can, for all American communities.

As I spoke with my students today, our potential future leaders, and assured them that those futures would be safe, my words felt false. America does not need to be great again. “Again” is our past. America’s history includes injustices we must never repeat.

Please consider that the word ‘extreme’ has many meanings. As you travel across our country during your term, and see many communities burdened with histories they did not create, please seek out joy there, too. You may have to look hard, but vitality and love is there, and it brings with it a grace almost unimaginable.

Please smile back. Assume that your community, my community, and communities of the world believe in a better place, a better truth, a better life. I do not think our country would like to bring back internment camps or Jim Crow laws. Back is the past. Back is not great. Better is what we hope our lives might become, moving forward. A better tone. A better discussion. A better us.

I locked my keys in the car today because I was engulfed in my emotions. I lost my keys today because my students teach me about kindness and intelligence each day. I lost my keys today because I needed to write this.

Please, President-elect Trump, consider carefully your next actions. You can hide all of our keys if you wish to polarize this nation, leaving many of us out in the cold darkness. Better though, I think, is to help us find our way back in.

Kasandra ​​Duthie’s writing has been published in Dzanc Books's Best of the Web print anthology, Love and Profanity nonfiction anthology, The Emerson Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Main Street Rag, and The Summerset Review. She lives with her patient husband and mopey dog in Minnesota where she teaches English at Saint Paul College. More from this author →