To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want—even president. Tonight is for you. -H pic.twitter.com/jq7fKlfwGV
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 8, 2016
Every once in a while Dr. Jill Stein, Green nominee for president, pops up in my Twitter timeline to remind me not to vote for the “lesser evil.” (She does not pop into my timeline specifically; she is not following me around like a person more crazy than she already is; I suppose I could just stop following her, but then where would I get my daily adrenalin shot of rage?)
But this is not a story about Jill Stein, since Evan already decreed we weren’t covering her anymore. This is about “lesser evil” Hillary Clinton. But what if I don’t think Hillary Clinton is “evil” at all? What if I like her real good???
The first time I realized how Hillary Clinton is Just Like Us (except for all the parts where she is fancy and stuff) was when she wrote to thank a young woman for blogging about her — the young woman’s, that is — herpes.
We all talk about how bad Hillary Clinton is at the “be a political person” thing, but every time she writes to a young woman, I want to cry with how good it is, how real and connecting and sweet. Here she is, writing to Lilly:
And today, is the best yet: Hillary Clinton’s email interview with Marley Dias, the 11-year-old girl who started #1000blackgirlbooks. You will of course go read the whole thing yourself, but here are just a couple of my favorites.
What was the first book you ever saw yourself in?
Hi, Marley! I love this question, because I think it’s so important for all of us to be able to see ourselves represented in the books we read and the movies and TV shows we watch. That’s why I love your “Black Girl Books” project so much. I hear you have more than 4,000 titles now. That’s fantastic. I am really proud of you.
Okay, back to your question. When I was young, I really identified with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, particularly the character of Jo. The book was written at a time when there weren’t as many options for women and girls as there are now. Jo really struggled with that. She wanted to write, to work, to help her family. And eventually she found ways to do it, and to live the life she wanted, even though it wasn’t what society expected of her. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to chart her own course. I remember reading that book and thinking, I want to be like that when I grew up.
What’s your favorite black girl book?
One of my favorite authors is Maya Angelou, and I love her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It tells the story of how Maya became such a strong, confident, determined person. Some parts are painful and hard to read, but of course that’s the case in a lot of great books. And because Maya became a friend of mine in real life, it meant a lot to be able to read her story and understand her journey better.
As a side note, Maya wrote something else I loved—a poem for Bill’s first inauguration back in 1993. It was called “On the Pulse of Morning,” and I want to share a stanza from it with you:
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Their conversation goes on, and Clinton is so easy with her. She simplifies her language a bit but never condescends; she talks about things like “SHIT MAYA ANGELOU’S LIFE WAS FUCKED UP SON!” but does it in a way that expects a smart child doesn’t need to be shielded, and that painful things can have beauty and worth; she talks about some mortifying times with her hair in junior high. She tells poems to a little girl. It’s just sweet and chatty and best-grandma, the one who doesn’t talk down to you or hide the facts of life from you, but trusts you will be able to understand.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Yes. It is.