My four-year-old daughter, O, and I sat at her grandmother’s kitchen table watching the news.
On the screen were dozens of men chanting, carrying torches, and marching down a street with looks of destruction and hate painted on their faces. These were the images of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but I couldn’t help but notice how familiar it all looked.
Just a few days earlier, O and I watched the recent live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” In the film, dozens of men fueled with hatred and ignorance marched down a street to destroy something their hearts and minds weren’t big enough to understand.
So often, we tell our children not to believe in fairy tales or “happily ever after.” But in reality, “happily ever after” simply means the characters found love—and to truly end the hate, violence, and division in our world, love is the only thing we need to find ourselves.
Goodnight sweet child; close your eyes.
I cannot sing you to sleep, for I have no lullabies.
I cannot tell you to pray, for I have no prayers.
Forget the villains in your fairy tales,
for the real world is the thing of nightmares.
There is no cursed prince waiting on a rose,
but men walk the streets with torches all the same.
With their hands stretched forward and weapons in their mouths,
here, the narcissistic beast goes by a different name.
While we may not be in a tower,
women must fight to make a choice.
And while mermaids are a thing of myth,
it is true we often lose our voice.
When you wake, I hope you feel empathy,
mixed with a little bit of rage.
Your princesses would be distraught, my love,
if they came to life off the page.
Elsa would cry for the polar bears,
and Jasmine would be banned.
If sweet Pocahontas lived here,
there would be a pipeline through her land.
Moana would be told to cover up,
and Tiana would be told she doesn’t matter.
Your beloved characters would look around this place,
and desperately wonder who drew it.
The genie would lose his mind,
because three wishes just wouldn’t do it.
Here, our knights wear white helmets,
and rescue princes without queens.
You must be your own hero, baby,
in a world where nothing is as it seems.
Now I lay you down to sleep,
and many will leave this Earth before you wake.
May you get up in the morning, sweet one,
and hit the ground so hard it shakes.
Goodnight, sweet girl, and please forgive me,
for the world can be so unjust.
But please never stop believing—
your imagination is what will save us.