Seeding Trailblazers

Sheila Dennis   —  

As we all know, this election left an enduring imprint on our children. While not fully understanding the complicated layers of history that culminated in these recent months, our youth, especially our girls, knew this election was special. I am the mother of a precocious 9-year-old, who, like her mother, is a ceaseless Hillary fan. Sade (pronounced like the singer) has a father originally from London, England, whose parents are Nigerian immigrants to the UK. I am Sade's mother, a white woman originally from a family of chicken farmers in rural Michigan. While this election was incalculably painful for those of us who have strived for women's rights, Sade gives us insight into Hillary's enduring legacy.

Sade abides in multiple worlds of race, class, culture and gender-an intersectionality that has sharpened and expanded her insight far beyond that of a typical 9-year-old. With her kaleidoscopic view, Sade embraced the gravity of Hillary's ascension. At one point during the election, Sade and I reviewed a picture of all the past presidents. "Sade," I questioned, "other than President Obama, what is the theme in this picture?" With no hesitation, Sade declared, "they are all white men."

Sade turned 9 on November 9th. Anticipating it to be a special celebratory day that would recognize our first female president on my sweet girl's magic birthday, it instead gave us an injection of despair. We were now facing four years with not only another cold, white man, but one who blatantly assaulted women with his crude, reckless words with our innocent Sade's of the world absorbing them.

Yet, undeterred, Sade, in her sweet innocence and piercing vision held me tightly on that frightful Wednesday and genuinely contemplated, "what if I were the first female president?" I sobbed as I gazed at my beautiful 9 year-old, bi-racial daughter with no status but that of complex heritage, threading together in her web of consciousness thoughts of trailblazing leadership.

As we muddled through our grief the next few days, Sade insisted she write Hillary a thank you note. Below is the note Sade penned on November 14th. At first, Sade would not let me read it, insisting that "this letter is between Hillary, me and the person who reads her mail." Eventually, she shared her words with me, and now she gives you permission to catch a glimpse into how Hillary captured the imagination of a 9-year-old biracial girl in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dear Hillary Clinton,
Thank you for staying strong for us Clinton fans. I am actually really surprised that you lost because I am from a Democratic school and when everybody found out that out that you lost, it was just a gloomie (sp) atmosphere. I think that kids' point of view is really important because we need a say in this. I think everybody should get a say in this, not just adults. Even though we are tiny, we can still make a difference. I know I am probably one of the only kids that will write to you, but this means a lot to me. You're my role modle (sp); you inspire me. It reminds me that you can be whatever you want to be. you remind me never to give up when I want to quit. You inspire me so much so I would just like to say thank you.
Thank you, Hillary Clinton.
From your fan,
P.S. Thank you, Hillary. You would have helped us stand out instead of building a wall.

Coming from a family of farmers, I know the long, arduous process of producing a crop. From our foremothers until now, we are just getting started. Secretary Clinton, with your impenetrable investment, you seeded a generation of trailblazing girls. What a legacy you have given us.