Last night, my country elected a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, socially regressive demagogue and his homophobic running mate into the 2 highest offices possible. I haven’t fully comprehended quite how it happened, although, if I’m being completely honest, I kind of do. And it makes me incredibly sad.
My daughter, the champion badass that she is, tried to stay awake as long as possible, keeping hope alive that things would turn and she would go to bed in a world where Hillary was winning. She cried when it didn’t. And now it’s my job to explain to her that even though our country is on fire, it’ll all be okay. And not simply because we live in a state that just elected our first female black representative but because we live in a country that, despite the horrific outcome of last night’s election, has this:
- People who will stand up to the bigotry and hatred and fight for what’s right
- A system that allows us to be outspoken and critical of our government and people screaming their discontent as loud as they can
- A generation of kids my daughter’s age who see what’s going on and who have parents that encourage them to get involved and who will do so because they want to do better than we did
- A Constitution that protects basic rights and, despite the way it might appear, will continue to protect those rights
- An election cycle that will hopefully undo this shitshow in 4 years
Donald Trump might be our president-elect but he can’t control what goes on in our living rooms. He can’t stop me from teaching my daughter the value and importance of compassion and tolerance. He can’t stop me from teaching her that bullying is wrong and acceptance is right. He can’t stop me from teaching her that her vote matters, even in a country that makes her feel like it doesn’t. He can’t stop me from teaching her that “NO” is a complete sentence and no one has the right to touch her anywhere he wants simply because he thinks he can. He can’t stop me from teaching her that love is love. He can’t stop me from teaching her that she needs to educate herself and not fall prey to shiny, empty promises. He can’t stop me from teaching her that name calling and mockery are not a dignified way to get what what you want. He can’t stop me from teaching her to use her voice to express her discontent. He can’t stop me from teaching her that we’ve come too far as a country to turn back now. He can’t stop me from teaching her that yes, you need to respect the office of the president, but that he is #notmypresident.
He is not reflective of our family’s values and beliefs. He is not reflective of my vision and hope for this country’s future. He is not reflective of my vote.
So, to my daughter, I also say: I’m sorry this country let you down. I’m sorry we showed that the 2nd amendment is more important than the 19th. I’m sorry we showed that the behavior you’re learning is unacceptable was just condoned and given incredible power. I’m sorry we didn’t do enough. I hope that my deepest fears about the results never come to fruition and that it’s rage and sadness rather than logic talking now. I hope that as far as racial and social progress go, we continue moving forward rather than backward. I hope that we don’t leave you an insurmountable mess to fix when you’re my age.
But please don’t surrender to fear and know that we, and our country, will survive this.
It will all be okay.
In the words of Bob Marley, Every little thing gonna be alright.