To the editor:
The hope and solidarity I felt participating in the Women’s March in Seattle with my 7-year-old daughter and 130,000 others on Saturday, Jan. 21 rejuvenated my spirit, and renewed my commitments to activism and ally-ship.
We talked about the march, the people we met, and the things we stand to lose in this administration. I watched my daughter grow a few inches taller in spirit that day. The good cheer stayed with us on Sunday and into Monday.
Until my 7-year-old walked home from a friend’s house after school on Monday, Jan. 23.
When she walked in the door, I thought she’d seen a ghost, she was pale and depressed – a far cry from her cheerful self. I learned that a neighbor approached my daughter on the street (accompanied by her own grown daughter) and condescendingly asked my daughter about her hat. My daughter explained it was her pussyhat – she had worn it to the march. The neighbor then proceeded in a political rant about Donald Trump – explaining with vigor to my daughter how great he’s going to make this country. My daughter slowly walked away, confused and hurt by the interaction, which was obviously meant to mock her.
I am appalled and outraged by this behavior. My neighbor has every right to believe what she wishes about Donald Trump. I don’t agree with her whatsoever, but she’s still allowed to think what she does. The point is that she went out of her way to approach a young child, and shame her, and more despicably, seemed to enjoy the process.
I have spent some time thinking about my neighbor and how polarized she must feel living on liberal Bainbridge Island. As a Navy wife, I have lived in many places where my political leanings were not in the majority. However, as adults we must strive to pursue healthy and appropriate outlets for our feelings. That is what the peaceful Women’s March did.
My daughter’s pussyhat that she wears proudly doesn’t exist to tick off Trump supporters. It stands as a hot pink symbol for justice, women’s equality, and I would even argue — critical thinking skills. My neighbor or any other Trump supporter are entitled to their beliefs.
They are not, however, entitled to be unkind, oppressive or threatening, especially to our island’s smallest feminists.
It is cowardly to shame a child for any reason, because shame does not teach. Disagree if we must, but hold the tension creatively, and be kind always. And also, neighbor, if you can’t manage that, pick on someone your own size. I’ll be the one in the pink hat.