My daughter has the awesome opportunity to attend the DNC this week. As a teenage girl, she is aware of the history being made this week as a major political party nominates the first woman in our country’s history for President. These are my words to her as she takes in this moment.
To my daughter,
Let’s get the “dad” stuff out of the way. Please be careful and hydrate while you enjoy the convention this week. Don’t forget to text or call when you can. Have fun.
Raising you and your brother is the most important thing I’ll ever do. Every day, I strive to take care of your basic needs, make sure you enjoy life and try to teach you some things along the way. But, it’s the lessons you have taught me that have had the most lasting impact on my life. I will never forget your Eighth Grade Promotion Night. After watching each student accept their rewards and accolades I noticed that female students got many more than the males. After the event, I asked you why you thought that was the case and your answer will stick with me for the rest of my life – “Girls have to work harder.” As a progressive, I have always known that gender inequality existed. As a man, I had never been able to put it into sharp relief until you stopped me in my tracks with your lived truth.
There isn’t much I can say to you that will have the same impact as your words had on me but I’ll do my best. Here are five things I hope you’ll take to heart this week and reflect on in the future.
- Yes, it’s historic that a woman will be a major party nominee. Celebrate this moment and lock it away in your memory. You have a unique opportunity to see this happen in person but a responsibility to tell others now and in the future what it means for our country.
- No, this isn’t the end of gender inequality. Hillary Clinton is breaking the Presidential glass ceiling but we still have far too few women running for office, too few women in all levels of government and far too few women in leadership roles in business, the military, entertainment, you name it. We’ve still got work to do.
- Gender inequality isn’t the only issue facing our country. We still have work to do to dismantle structural racism, do more for persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and other issues not mentioned or yet to appear on the national conscience.
- Some people, including people you love, will disagree with your political stances. Respect them and their opinions while you argue vehemently for your issues and opinions (and remind me I said this when I fail to live up to my own words.)
- Please take a moment to recognize the tremendous opportunity afforded to you this week. Recognize when you are exercising your privilege. But, recognize how far we have come as a country. You are the great grandchild of a coal miner who was unable to read but built this country and loved this country despite not being able to read the words written by our founders. You are the great-great granddaughter of immigrants from Romania who came to this country and sent their son to fight for it in World War II. Moments like this happen because of those who came before us, but the next great moments will happen because of you and your generation.
I love you so much,