ABBY RICHMOND (GRADE 11)
Dear boys who hiss and yell “Hillary for prison” at me,
You’ve done it a couple times. The first time, I was on my way to math class. It was November 8—Election Day—and I had come to school clad in my Hillary t-shirt and Rosie the Riveter socks. I had been thinking about the election all day, excitedly and enthusiastically rooting for my candidate. I was alone, walking slowly, and the theater entrance was buzzing with people. As I passed you, I heard hissing and chanting. I looked at you and realized that your target was me, and whichever one of you was wearing the “Make America Great Again” hat was laughing and pointing at me and yelling “Hillary for prison.”
I was pretty shocked. I glanced around me to see if anyone else in the area had seen it, but it seemed as though I was alone, so I just pretended not to hear you and sped up. I darted up to math, and when I finally reached the classroom, I felt like crying.
The second time, I was walking into Newtonville. That day, there was no one around other than the whizzing cars streaming by. I wasn’t sure if I had heard correctly over the roaring wind and traffic, but sure enough, I looked over and there you were. All the pain of the past week instantly rushed back—our country had discarded a passionate, qualified candidate and instead elected a racist, misogynistic, homophobic demagogue—and I felt small and vulnerable. I shivered, pretended I didn’t see you, and doubled my pace.
It only took a few seconds for my fear and sadness to morph into anger. People like you capitalize on hatred and disrespect to make yourselves seem bigger. Your candidate has made it acceptable for you to bully and harass others, and lets you think that as straight white boys you are better than everyone else. People like you attacked a woman in a hijab on the subway a few weeks ago. People like you yelled “build the wall” at a Latino kid in a cafeteria. People like you thought it would be funny to spray-paint swastika graffiti on walls.
It’s true that yelling “Hillary for prison” at me certainly is nowhere near as bad as those examples above. I’m privileged. I’m white and live in a wealthy and liberal town. So yes, the severity of these actions certainly aren’t equal, but the point is that you have shown that you have no regard for decency or tolerance. This, unfortunately, has been normalized by your candidate, who has relentlessly picked on and disrespected women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and the disabled and LGBTQ communities from the start. Buying into the ridiculous “Hillary for prison” school of thought—and then yelling it at people—perfectly illustrates the lack of respect and emphasis on fear-mongering that Trump has relied so heavily on. And it’s ugly.
So, what am I gonna do the next time you decide to yell at me? While I’d really like to shout something back, I won’t stoop to your level. Maybe I’ll walk up to you and hand you this letter.