This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
If Brea Fournier, a 16-year-old from Cottonwood Heights, could talk to soon-to-be President Donald J. Trump, she would tell him she is very passionate about human rights.
She would convey her concerns "in a respectful way," she says, while asking Trump to "remember that blacks, whites, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, men, women, and LGBTQ" are all Americans. "Please defend their rights as much as you would defend your own," the Utah teen would say respectfully. "I'm asking you to remember that on the inside, we all look the same. And we all want a nation of peace."
Despite the ugliness of the recent election, Fournier, who attends the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, expresses great hope for the future. "The divide is actually mobilizing my generation more," she said in a phone interview Thursday. "Our generation is really going to have to work to get back to the middle, and back to listening to one another."
Another Utah teen, Emma Fryer, 17, of West Jordan, would also call on the president to remember that diversity is what makes our country great. "I hope that he listens to everyone in America," she said in a phone interview.
Brea and Emma's letters to Trump are among the six essays by Utah teens included in a just-released anthology, "Dear Mr. President: Teen Voices From Across the Country." "I am hopeful, I am scared, I am proud, I am hurt, I am invigorated," Emma wrote in her essay.
The book was the brainchild of writer Ingrid Ricks, a Logan native and University of Utah graduate now transplanted to Seattle. Ricks, the author of the bestselling young adult memoir "Hippie Boy," is launching "Dear Mr. President" in concert with Friday's Inauguration ceremonies. (It's available as a free Kindle download through Sunday; see box for details.)
The project grew out of Ricks' feelings of powerlessness after the election, particularly her concern about the sky-rocketing cost of health care after battling breast cancer and vision issues. Her two teenage daughters and other students expressed similar feelings after an election in which they weren't eligible to vote.
With a team of editors and designers, Ricks called on teens to submit essays addressed to the incoming president. Along with the Utah teens, youths from Connecticut, California, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Washington state submitted their thoughts for the book.
"I hope that the message and their voices get out so far and wide that the new administration and Congress will read their stories and their letters and their poems," Ricks says. "That's what I hope. We're starting a movement here."
Or as 17-year-old Yein Ji, of North Salt Lake, writes in her poem, "A Message From Us," labeling herself as the daughter of immigrants: "We are here for better lives / and we're not turning back."
'Dear Mr. President'
The anthology is available as a free Kindle download through Sunday, Jan. 22. After that, an e-copy of the book will sell for $3.99, and the paperback will be $9.99, with proceeds donated to the nonpartisan Rock the Vote organization.
Info • writeitoutloud.org
Purchase • amazon.com/Dear-Mr-President-Voices-Country/dp/0985929456