Dear President-elect Trump,
It has been a really tough month for me. I’ve been depressed. I have no idea what is going on in the world because since Election Night I have chosen not to consume any news. I have hardly talked to any of my friends or family because I don’t want to talk about “it.” Instead I have caught up on lots of television. I now relate everything to an episode of “Black Mirror” (you should check Season 2 episode 3: “The Waldo Moment”). I have spent a significant amount of time wondering if maybe I am one of Anthony Hopkins’ creations. And the only thing in my life that I am looking forward to right now is Season 2 of Atlanta (if you can do something and speed that up that would be much appreciated).
I haven’t completely distanced myself from the Internet. There is porn. But truthfully I have watched a lot less porn since Election Night (so your friends on the right won). I also have spent lots of time reading publications like Complex and Hypebeast. They haven’t covered you much, which is great for someone like me who just needs to pretend that you weren’t elected president. Then on Tuesday everything changed. All of these publications covered your meeting with Kanye West. Let me rephrase that, they covered your meeting with a just released from the hospital for “exhaustion” Kanye West.
I am sure there is lots of reporting out there dissecting your meeting with Mr. West — which in it self says all you need to know about the media. My hunch is the majority of them are attacking him. But let’s be real, I get why a just released from the hospital for “exhaustion” Kanye West flew to New York to meet with you. Kanye isn’t really all there. He hasn’t been for a while. You know that. I know that. We all know that. Full disclosure I think he is a musical genius (lyrical genius not so much) and he has an impeccable eye for trends. But Kanye West, “exhausted” or not, has showed us time and time again that he has a very difficult time expressing his thoughts coherently. Your meeting with Kanye was not entirely his fault. I wouldn’t have blamed a 2007 Britney Spears for flying to Texas to meet with then President Bush at his ranch nor would I have blamed a 2011 Charlie Sheen for flying to Washington DC to meet with President Obama over a glass of Tiger’s blood.
I wonder why you thought it would be a good idea to meet with a just released from the hospital Mr. West when instead you could have been meeting with senior advisors discussing you know, forming a government for the people, by the people or attending a security briefing. I get it, it sounds a bit boring to me too. At least Kanye West is entertaining. But you’re going to be President so I thought I would give you the benefit of doubt and assume that you met with Mr. West to build bridges. In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I could provide you a list of other entertaining musicians that you should have met with and what you could have discussed to effectively build those bridges that any President needs to build to bring about some real change:
[1+2] BEYONCÉ AND JAY-Z
Let’s face it Mr. President-Elect, you are a lemon. Deep down you have to know this. America was handed one giant lemon when you were elected. So like the old saying goes ‘if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ You could have invited Queen B over and asked her the meaning of “Lemonade.” You could have asked her what her mom taught her and what she is teaching her daughter. You could have asked her what it means to be a black woman in this country and how she felt when cops, who were sworn to protect every person in their jurisdiction, boycotted her for expressing her feelings. You should have also invited her husband, Mr. Carter over. You could have ask him about his involvement with the #Blacklivesmatter movement and his decision to support the jailed protesters who reacted to the killing of Freddie Gray. You could have also discussed with him what it was like growing up in Brooklyn in the shadows of Trump Tower. You could have signaled to the nation that you would address these issues and start your presidency working with those who didn’t support you. Clearly you got 99 problems. Let Beyoncé and Jay-Z not be one.
 JOHN FORTE
If you recall President George Bush pardoned musician John Forte in 2008. Forte had been serving a sentence of 14 years in prison since 2001. Since then Forte has been a stand out voice on criminal justice reform — even performing at he White House. Recently he has been working with #schoolsnotprisions. You said a lot of things about people in prison, specifically black people in prison. It was clear to anyone with a brain that while you were running for president you didn’t understand our criminal justice system. You even implied that innocent men should be locked up. You should have invited John over and heard from him what it was like in prison. You should have asked him what he is doing to prevent more people from going to prison. You might not have gotten a free pair of Yeezys out of it but that meeting would have signaled that you are at least curious about criminal justice reform and acknowledge that something needs to improve.
 KENDRICK LAMAR
Kendrick has lots to say and unlike Kanye, Kendrick is applauded for his poetry and his uncanny ability to be the “voice of a generation.” With lyrics like, “I’m African-American, I’m African / I’m black as the heart of a fuckin’ Aryan / I’m black as the name of Tyrone and Darius /Excuse my French but fuck – no, fuck y’all” it is hard to say he is not speaking to the grievances felt by many Americans. Not everyone has agreed with Kendrick. Just look at the reaction post Ferguson or listen to “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Kendrick does what he wants to do, says what he wants to say, he is real and unlike Kanye West, Kendrick is really, really real. You should have invited him over to listen to him. How did he feel following the shooting of Michael Brown? It’s amazing how much you can learn by just listening to others.
 CHANCE THE RAPPER
I get it, Mr. President-elect, you being a fan of Kanye, must mean you dig the Chicago hip-hop scene. So let me suggest another Chicago artist that everyone wants to meet with and hang out with right now: Chance the Rapper. Chance, so hot right now. In many ways you and Chance are very similar. You are both iconoclasts who have challenged the system and ultimately came out on top. You had a lot to say about the South Side. You should have invited him over for a coloring book session to hear what it was like growing up on the South Side. Maybe you would have gained a greater understanding of what’s going on and would have become better equip to address the city of Chicago and the nation with feasible solutions.
[6+7] MILEY CYRUS AND LADY GAGA
From an optics standpoint this might have been your most productive meeting. Both Miley and Lady Gaga were some of your harshest, most vocal critics. Undoubtedly they were speaking on the behalf of many in the LBGTQ community. Both of these women have devoted their lives so far to empowering the LGBTQ community. You should have invited them over — with a poker face or not — to discuss many of the issues facing the community: from fighting for equal rights and protections to the stigma of HIV/AIDS to ways we can prevent another Orlando PULSE Nightclub shooting. You came into the political scene like a wrecking ball now it’s time to build and bring the LGBTQ community into your America.
[8+9] BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND JON BON JOVI
Arguably there aren’t two musicians who represent the white working class more than these two. While both were and still are critics of you, you should have extended the olive branch and had them over for some PBRs. White working class men and women helped you win but there are lots of questions on whether or not you understand America’s working class. Why not at least hear what Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Bon Jovi have to say. Both of these men have given back to their communities. The Boss just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor and Jon Bon Jovi has worked tirelessly on behalf of the homeless and United States Veterans. When you think of the American Dream it’s hard not to think about the ones who sung and continue to sing about it and have become the voice of those who could not speak and those who were not being heard. Both of these “national icons” would have shown how serious you are about helping those who feel the government over the past 8 years did not represent them.
 STEVIE WONDER
As you know the most shocking and damaging thing you did while running for office was making fun of The New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that involves contraction of the joints in the body. Mr. Wonder is blind and he never let that stop him. He has become one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of our time. You should have invited Mr. Wonder over (as well as Mr. Kovaleski) to show the world that you regret those comments and want to right your wrongs. You should work together bring much needed support to those facing disabilities and to their families. A meeting with Stevie Wonder would have done a lot for you to reach that Higher Ground.
[11+12] ANY LATINO OR MUSLIM MUSICIAN
You really couldn’t go wrong here, Mr. President-elect. Mos Def, Akon, J.LO, Marc Anthony, Pitbull, Lupe Fiasco, Zayn Malik. You should have in invited them all over. There was so much divisiveness over the past year that I think Americas are yearning for a coming together. Music has always been an excellent way to unite people and bring about social change. Create your own “We Are the World.”
Let’s face it Mr. President-Elect your meeting with Kanye West is as ridiculous as this letter. With that said we all learn from our mistakes and I hope you can start taking your job seriously. I may not have much respect for you right now – and I may never – but I do have respect for the office of the President. The power you have to affect positive change should be treated as a gift and an opportunity. It might have taken me over a month to get here but I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt in 2017. I would like to think that you would focus on issues impacting not just those who voted for you but also those who did not vote for you. Instead of meeting with people like Kanye West or even those I’ve listed above I would love to see you meet with nurses and teachers, with factory workers and social workers, and with Black Lives Matters, Human Rights Campaign and the US Council of Muslim Organizations. Together we can build a better, stronger and more accepting nation.
I would like to extend my warmest wishes and happy holidays to you and your family.
Brad from New York
Illustration ©Megan Schaller. All rights reserved.