When I was twelve years old, I read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl for the very first time. From the very first word, I felt as if Anne Frank spoke to me. Here I was, a girl that has always felt very different, and then I read Her Diary and everything changed. I felt as if I met someone who was innocent, smart, and kind, but at the same time resilient, tolerant, proud, spiritual, and optimistic. This was the girl that I felt was my soul mate from the past. This was the girl who I wanted in a friend. I imagined that I was Kitty and that she was writing her letters to me, because why not?
After I read Her Diary, I went back to the library and checked out as many books as I could about Anne Frank. I was determined that I learn as much about this amazing person as possible. I read books, I watched documentaries, and I watched the movies. Every little fact I learned, I tucked away, relishing in it, feeling as if I was that much closer to getting to know her as a person.
As an adult, my love for Anne Frank has not diminished. Even today, I feel a thrill of delight every time I hear her name. I can watch the Anne Frank movies again and again. I can read her diary and her biographies again and again. Every time I do, it is as if I am visiting an old friend. And no other book has ever given me that feeling (although the Harry Potter books have come pretty close!).
Now that I am a mother, I am determined to instill the same values that I fell in love with in my daughter. I want her to read The Diary of a Young Girl and understand what happens when good people are put in a bad situation. I want her above all to understand the value of hope and optimism. No matter how bad the circumstances, it is important that one remain positive about the future. I believe that optimism is the greatest arsenal that one has to fight against evil.
In Her Diary, Anne Frank often spoke at great lengths about her faith in humanity. In a time when this is often undermined, I think it is more important than ever that we believe in each other and work together for the betterment of mankind. Because when we turn against each other, then what becomes of us? Chaos and destruction ensue. I want my daughter to know that she should be willing to work with people, in particular people who care.
But at the same time, I want her to be smart and know that sometimes you cannot trust everyone. Sometimes you just have to have faith in something (God, Allah, Buddha, Nature, Self) and trust that everything will be okay. Anne Frank often admitted that she was not a very spiritual person but that changed over the course of Her Diary as the war progressed. Anne Frank soon realizes the value of having faith, any kind of faith, in something. Having something to believe in can give you the hope and resilience to make it through.
I also want my daughter to be tolerant and to be proud of who she is. As a multiracial person in today’s society, it can often be hard to be proud of where you come from. We live in a world in which people will tell someone to “Go back to Mexico” or call ugly, derogatory names at someone just for the color of their skin. We live in a world in which people tend to put more emphasis on the color of your skin, and not who you are on the inside.
No matter what happens, I want her to know that she is who she is and there is nothing wrong with that. I think that my daughter — and every child and person — should be proud of who they are. Never be ashamed and never let anyone else tell you that you do not belong.
Anne Frank was Jewish, which is something that she could not help, and she was prosecuted, forced to go into hiding, arrested, and then died because of it. I hope that no child ever has to go through what Anne Frank went through, especially during the last few years of her life.
If Anne Frank had lived, she would be celebrating her eighty-ninth birthday on June 12 surrounded by her loved ones. I like to think that she would have become a well-accomplished writer, world-traveler, mother, grandmother, and even a great-grandmother. There is no doubt in my mind that she would have become a magnificent person and a champion of human rights.
Remember Anne Frank. Remember a girl who fought in Her Diary to stay strong, positive, resilient, spiritual, and proud despite her circumstances. Always remember Anne Frank not just on her birthday but every day. It is important that as a human race we stay strong and united so that what happened to Anne Frank never happens again.