To White Men

(On the occasion of the 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate 
between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence)

I don’t hate you.  My father was one of 
you. He, with his tense jaw and strong
grasp meant for affection but delivered 
in pain. He whose presence commanded

attention when he spoke. Though I had
six more years of education, two degrees
more, I listened patiently when he explained the
themes of Thoreau’s writing. Me, expressionless,

when he persisted in pronouncing it THOR-ee-o. 
Me, silent, waiting until my next class to unload
the corrections on unsuspecting sophomores. 
He, who threw the blinker light of his 

motorcycle against the back wall of the garage
in rage when it broke from the bike he had
instructed me to hold while he retrieved 
his forgotten wallet. Me, 10 years small,

not quite made to kickstand a Kawasaki. Me, 
watching in terror as the center of gravity shifted
away from my spindly arms. Me, watching it fall,
the bike and his anger, with a rush of hot wind.

Me, wanting to say, “you’re the Einstein who 
thought 65 pounds could hold 400 at center,” but 
I would never dare.  Wouldn’t even admit I 
was thinking it for at least two decades. 

He, whose anger was quick and sharp, but 
his raised backhand never landed, only 
threatened. That was enough. He, the one 
who told first-grade me to tell those sixth-grade 

boys that my daddy was as big as King 
Kong and they better leave me alone, but 
he could have just been on time to pick me 
up instead. And 

you, who look so much like him, wearing
your assistant managership like a crown, 
interrupting me when I’m speaking, as if I
was never speaking.  You, who have never 

moved through your world afraid, always 
afraid. You, claiming you see women as
equal because you have no comprehension 
of the depth of your ignorance. You, holding

a toothpick and lecturing a druidic priestess
on forestry.  You, the one not forced 
to smile, the writer of rules not the follower,
the interrupter and talkoverer and ignorer of

anything not you. I don’t hate you. To hate you,
I would have to start with him, and I love 
him.  Like a beaten dog still needing to eat, 
I love him. I don’t have to love you (thank

god), but I am able to not hate you. 
Because of him. 
In spite of yourselves. 

and him.  

© 2020 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved

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