Art

Scared Denver Kids' Letters to Donald Trump

"Dear Trump. I feel sad because you are saying you want to send the Mexicans back. I am Mexican. Plz don't send my family back. I am really mad. Plz think before you say. I was really scared about what you said on the TV."

So reads a letter to Donald Trump from Delany, a fifth-grader at Annunciation Catholic School in Denver. The missive is written on a box that becomes a brick in a wall at the center of a fascinating art project currently on display at RedLine art gallery — one that says plenty about inner-city Denver and how kids of color feel about the president-elect.

The author makes it clear she stands by her words. Alongside the note, she wrote, "I am Delany and I approve this message."

The project involving Annunciation (disclosure: My wife is principal at the school) was a collaboration between artist Ella Maria Ray, art instructor Carmel Russo and members of the fifth-grade class, many of whom are of Mexican ancestry.


As Russo explained during the Saturday, December 10, debut of the exhibit, one of several remarkable student projects that will be on view at RedLine during December, the students were asked to tackle subjects that they thought were unfair — and what emerged was a portrait of a community filled with challenges.

Images depict the influx and influence of drugs, as seen on a table festooned with marijuana leaves and pill bottles....

...as well as violence, epitomized by the outline of a body surrounded by symbolic bullets.

The target motif at the heart of the fallen figure shows up again on in a broader context, making it clear that the kids believe they are targeted by a variety of forces and individuals.


This theme expands to Trump on the aforementioned barrier. One sign announces, "This Is Our Wall," while another states, "Please hold & read our bricks."


Each brick features a letter to Trump. Russo says the students were encouraged to write from an understanding and compassionate perspective, but to speak honestly about their fears and concerns — and they certainly did so.

As you can see, a letter from Giana reads, "Dear Mr. Trump, I want to give you a chance. You seem like a great person. I am afraid of you. Please don't send my friends back please. Thank you. Love, Giana."

The presentation includes more than negativity. In the midst of the drugs, trash and mock shell casings is a rainbow-colored pathway through the urban jungle....


...with items on the other side imagining a more positive relationship between Mexico and the United States.

In conversation, the student artists admit to plenty of anxiety and anger. One girl says she spent the day after the election in tears, while another says she found it difficult to strike a positive tone in her letter because she was so upset at comments Trump made about women and girls during the campaign.

Nonetheless, the results speak with uncommon honesty about children from diverse backgrounds and what's going through their minds in the run-up to Donald Trump's inauguration.

One letter concludes simply, "I hope you won't be a bad president."

Continue to see more letters to Donald Trump from scared Denver kids.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts