stop and frisk

Dear Donald,

You're running for president. I say that since you occasionally forget things that just happened.

While on the campaign trail in August, you made your pitch to black and Hispanic voters like me. And then you asked us a question.

"What do you have to lose?" you asked.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

I'm not taking this quote out of context either. Here are your actual remarks from a speech in Akron, Ohio. The emphasis is mine:

"The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities. For those hurting the most who have been failed and failed by their politician — year after year, failure after failure, worse numbers after worse numbers. Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it's safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats. And I ask you this, I ask you this — crime, all of the problems — to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: 'What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I'll straighten it out. I'll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?' And you know, I say it, and I'm going to keep saying it. And some people say: 'Wow, that makes sense.' And then some people say: 'Well, that wasn't very nice.' Look, it is a disaster the way African Americans are living, in many cases, and, in many cases the way Hispanics are living, and I say it with such a deep-felt feeling: What do you have to lose? I will straighten it out. I'll bring jobs back. We'll bring spirit back. We'll get rid of the crime. You'll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot. Look at the statistics. We'll straighten it out. If you keep voting for the same failed politicians, you will keep getting the same results. They don't care about you. They just like you once every four years — get your vote and then they say, 'Bye, bye!'"

So much of what you said there is wrong. Even if I set aside the big, huge fact that not all black people live in the lawless, urban hellscapes you so eloquently described, there are plenty of black communities that don't meet the threshold of "living nightmare." Some are even wonderful places to live.

Some of us live in cities and neighborhoods that are mostly white, Donald. We share their schools. Live together in neighborhoods. And, yet, we're still coming up short.

Police arrest a protester who tried to stand his ground after an unlawful assembly was declared on a street near the site where an unarmed black man, Alfred Olango, 38, had been shot by police. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

But I digress.

It was the question you asked near the end that really makes me mad.

What the hell do I have to lose, Donald? Everything. I have everything to lose.

I'm just one black voter and can't begin to, nor do I care to, speak for all black people in America. But since you asked, allow me to tell you three pretty important things I stand to lose by giving you my vote.

1. I could lose my life if I put my faith in you. Yeah, let's start with that.

My white friends wonder aloud how you got this far in the race. I don't.

I've been followed around a department store. I've been called "nigger" while running in my own neighborhood. I live less than 20 miles away from the 7-11 where a white supremacist ran over a black teenage boy with his car while his girlfriend reportedly cheered, "Get him, baby!"

I'm well aware that racists (and the people who love them) are alive, well, and living among us. And you, Donald, have encouraged them. You've goaded them. You've cheered them on. They have a friend in you — a champion even. They will fight for you, they will lob insults and bigotry for you, and it would not surprise me one bit if they would kill for you too, all under the guise of making this country great again.

Protesters and supporters of Donald Trump fight during a rally outside Trump's event in San Diego. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

I want a president who knows we have a lot of work to do, who understands that we need to root out racism and check our privilege in this country. I want a president who isn't a loudmouth bigot, who knows my life matters and acts accordingly.

But that president is not you.

2. I could lose my marriage voting for you. It's pretty great and I'd like to keep it.

I love my wife. I love making her dinner. I love falling asleep next to her. I love planning our life together. We were married just weeks after the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage the law of the land. It was pretty freakin' magical.

So I'll be damned if anyone, especially a do-nothing, narcissistic philanderer, is going to take that away from us, or even entertain the backward people who still think mine or any LGBTQ relationship is up for negotiation.

A married couple smile at the crowd in the New York City Pride March. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

I also know LGBTQ rights didn't begin and end with marriage, and I want a president who gives a damn about transgender women of color being murdered in cities across the country.

I want a president who fights for nondiscrimination acts instead of these phony religious freedom bills. I want a president with a plan to get homeless LGBTQ kids off the street and one who doesn't care which bathroom someone uses as long as they wash their hands.

But that president is not you.

3. I could lose my civil liberties and personal freedoms if you became president. Those are things I would like to keep.

You're a big fan of stop-and-frisk, the deeply disturbing practice of police officers profiling people (mostly black and brown men), stopping them on the street, and often handcuffing or restraining them while they're searched and questioned indiscriminately.

It's degrading, humiliating, and largely ineffective. Yet you want to double down on a policy that pits people of color against police officers and does the exact opposite of unifying communities and building trust? No, thanks.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

You and your main man Mike Pence also don't trust me to make my own reproductive decisions either.

I want a president who trusts me. One who trusts I'm not a terrorist or crook simply because I'm black. One who trusts that I know my own body and what to do with it.

But that president is not you.

I want a president who is willing to put in work to get to know the communities, cultures, and religions that make this country a place to be proud of.

I want a president who knows we all still need each other.  

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

I want a president who understands that my life as a black woman is complex. I am not just a brown version of a white person. I am not a caricature dancing on a stoop or a large sassy woman in a beauty shop. There is history here, and it's deep, rich, and nuanced, and I want a president who understands this.

You, Donald, don't understand this. Not because you're white — but because you haven't tried.

Because you are not a president.

So no, Donald, you don't have my vote. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.