I am an alumna of St. Andrew’s Episcopal, the college preparatory school that President Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron Trump, will attend this fall. I have written and expressed my utter disdain for President Trump more times than I can count. I even wrote A Warning to Trump Supporters as the (estranged) daughter of a man just like him. Donald Trump reminds me of my father— the gas lighting, the grandiosity, the mannerisms. I shared in a recent Facebook post after receiving my acceptance letter to Georgetown University, that I was inspired to go back to school and get my college degree in Public Policy after experiencing the loss and trauma most of us suffered on November 8th of 2016. I was working hard for the Democratic Senate of California, and I felt a rage in me I had never felt before. It scared me. I understood anger in a way I had never before.
But today, after the news broke, old classmates and teachers, and their friends, and their friends of friends, were flooding my newsfeed with debates and opinions of how they felt about Barron’s future attendance. I was surprised at my own reaction after I read how many of those were intolerant— or that they would stop donating to the school as a result— a school they were lucky and privileged enough to attend. I thought I’d join in with them: Down with all of the Trumps at any cost!
But then something happened. I couldn’t help but see myself in Barron after reading some of the comments.
When I was eighteen years old my father went to prison for fraud. He was involved in The Wolf of Wall Street scandal and later, in another, which ultimately led to his incarceration. My mother, two sisters and I lost everything. My father later stole my identity, took credit cards out in my name and left me in nearly $100,000 worth of debt. Greed had destroyed my family just as it might this country. I detailed the experience, first in an open letter in the LA Weekly and later, in my memoir, After Perfect.
When the news broke that I had landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster, I was trolled on twitter, and comments were made by people asking, “is she going to give her book advance to the Wolf of Wall Street and her father’s victims? What about her royalties?”
I don’t owe anyone anything. I had, and have nothing to be sorry for. I was eight or nine years old when my father was doing business with the self-described Wolf – close to Barron Trump’s age.
Barron Trump has nothing to be sorry for. Just imagine for a moment what a narcissistic, sociopathic father— one who becomes President— might do and say to his son?
What happened to: No human is illegal? Love is love is love is love is love. No one chooses their lot in life. The teenager I taught in juvenile hall with InsideOUT Writers didn’t choose to be born to an alcoholic father and an absent mother who dodges bullets on his way to school. No one chooses to be born into the families that they’re given. Barron Trump didn’t choose Donald and Melania Trump as his parents. Just as the child washed up upon the shores of Turkey didn’t choose to be born in Syria.
But what about the broader picture, the millions of lives at risk of losing their health care? Are we pitting them against a child? Can we actually measure the value of an innocent, human life? You tell me.
I do know one thing: And I learned it sitting in Mr. Haight’s American history class, the same class Barron Trump will most likely be sitting in soon, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”