Tag Archives: what now

What I told my children

A few folk have asked me what I told my children this morning, so I thought I’d repeat it here, because it seems like something perhaps we all need to hear, and say, and do.

This morning when I woke up, my Youngin was already awake. She was listening to the radio and making angry signs in her room. I walked in and sat down next to her and she leaned into me and we cried together for a minute.

I told her I was sorry, so very, very sorry.

Then I wiped her tears, and mine, and took a deep breath and told her that it was okay to be angry, it was okay to be upset and scared and frustrated and disappointed. It was okay to have all of those feelings.

BUT.

Then I told her that we, personally, were going to be okay. The world was not going to change that much for us. We are not the people Trump has targeted in his speeches and at his rallies.

BUT.

That does not mean we can exhale and relax. The fact that we do not have targets on our backs does not make this any less of a disaster for our nation. And this is a disaster.

I reminded her of the Mr. Rogers Meme that tells people in disasters to look for helpers, and I told her that we HAD TO be the helpers this time. Because we are “safe,” because we are going to be “okay” we have to stand up, we have to use our voices and our power to help the people who have been targeted, who are not safe, who Trump promised will not be okay.

I told her that today was going to be a really hard, really scary day for a lot of her friends, and that they were going to need her. More than ever. I reminded her what it means to be an ally, that it is not an identity, it is action – and that today, and the next four years, that was our job. To be there, to hold the lines, to interrupt hate speech, to disrupt violence. I reminded her of Michelle Obama’s words – when someone goes low, our job is to go high. We cannot give in to fear, or let it turn into hate.

an-ally-is

I told her that her job was to be there for her friends. To hug them, to reassure them, and to work for their safety and well being. She’s already such a strong “upstander,” but she’s been seeing and living the Trump Effect. I told her it would likely get worse and that we would need to be ever more vigilant, and ever more ready to support and defend people, to keep them safe. I reminded her of her adult allies in her school, the people she could turn to if she saw or heard violence directed at another student – or at herself, because after all we just elected a sexual predator for president.

Trump held up a mirror for me and showed me the truth of what my LGBTQ friends, my Latinx friends, my Black friends, my Muslim friends, my immigrant friends, my poor friends, my sick friends – have all been saying for YEARS. Yes – it is this bad. We, allies, cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore. Not for one more second. We need to take a long, hard look in this mirror and recognize our part in this, and then we need to get to work.

upstander

I reminded her of her classmate who, after their school’s mock election, said, “I voted for Trump.” and then looked around the room at all of his Latinx classmates and said with sincere feeling, “But don’t worry. I also asked God not to let him deport anyone.” Because kids are not born hating, or fearing. They are taught that. Our job is to teach them love. Our job is to reach out to those people who voted for Trump, but prayed that he wouldn’t be allowed to do the things he said he would do, and talk to them. Compassionately. We need to figure out what they were voting for – or against – if it wasn’t the hate we all heard.

And then I told her that my job, as an adult, as someone who is safe, is to do that work – the work of reaching out, of listening to people who voted for Trump, of hearing them. Because last night I fell asleep thinking about what I needed to do to protect the people he promised to harm, I fell asleep in a pit of “what the actual fuck?” But when I woke up, I realized that if this election had gone the other way, half of America would have felt the same existential dread that I feel right now. Half of America was more scared of Hillary Clinton than of an openly misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, narcissistic bully. No matter which way you slice it, half of America believes that America is going down the drain, and taking them with it. Half of America feels left out, shut out, torn down.

We truly are a nation divided.

As an adult, it is my job to break down THAT WALL. That wall that the media has helped to build, that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have helped build, that all of this us and them rhetoric has helped build. There is no us and them – we’re all in this boat together, so we’ve got to stop shouting and start listening.

We have got to appeal to our better angels.

We have got to rise above.

As Katie Goodman would say, we have got to unfuck this up.

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Filed under Naive idealism, Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant, Things that work

Be a helper

Hi everyone. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted. I’ve missed you. Oddly I’ve gotten quite a few new fans/followers/folk since my last long ago post, so – hi new folk. Welcome to my brain.

So… It looks like my country elected a racist, sexist, xenophobic, narcissist for president. Sorry about that.

No really. I am so fucking sorry. I am beside myself.

I am up typing this because I have to figure out what to do now. I’m unprepared for this. I mean – I know my country isn’t post-racial, or post-feminist, or even very progressive, but I didn’t realize just how much anger and hate and fear there was. I underestimated the backlash.

I’ll admit – genuine thoughts about just running away went through my mind, and even came out of my mouth. But then… I remembered, I’m uncomfortably safe. I’m a white middle classish person. Yes, I’m a woman and sexual assault just became openly acceptable at the same time that a candidate who has sworn to take away my reproductive rights was elected president, but honestly – those are battles I’ve been fighting for decades – I’ll just have to fight them more strategically now.

Meanwhile, there are loads of other people who are really, truly screwed. Millions of lives have just been made worse, millions of families have been put at risk. This, what just happened, is a true disaster.

As I thought about what that meant, what that looks like, I remembered this meme that pops up every time there is a natural disaster, or another mass shooting, or a large-scale tragedy.

look-for-the-helpers

Look for the helpers.

But… Here’s the thing – I can’t look for the helpers this time. This time – I have to be the helper. This is on me.

Why? Because white people, as a group, voted for Trump. White women abandoned Hillary and voted for Trump. This mess – this is our mess, my mess. Sure, I voted blue, and I urged everyone I knew to do the same. I wore my pantsuit and proudly proclaimed that I was #WithHer, but… it wasn’t enough. And now – we need to work together to keep this garbage fire from spreading and hurting people.

People keep saying, “it’ll all be okay.” But here’s the thing – we’ve elected a president who has promised, on numerous occasions, that life will not be okay for Muslims, Latinx folk, LGBTQ folk, immigrants, refugees, women, people with pre-existing medical conditions, poor people… Which means empty platitudes are not going to cut it.

White people – we have got to get our collective shit together. We have got to rise up and listen to our better angels. We cannot simply say, “it’s going to be okay.” We have to work to make it okay. We have to hold the lines of progress that we have made in this country. We have to reach out to our community members who are hurting, who are scared, who are threatened and we have to actively support them.

This is on us.

I struggled with what I was going to tell my kids tomorrow. But this is it.

I’m going to tell them to bring their A-game tomorrow, and every day after, because life for us is going to continue being okay. They’re going to continue to have a house and clothes and food on the table, and a family that no government organization can tear apart. But their friends, their friends are going to need them. They are going to need their strength, their love, and sometimes their voice.

My friends are going to need the same. So are strangers I’ve never met who will be facing an amplified Trump Effect. I cannot sit this one out. It is time to be vigilant, to be aware, and to step up and be a helper.

If you’ve ever called yourself an ally before – this is your rally cry. This is the moment. This is where you turn your allyship into action and prove your mettle. It’s time to suit up and get to work.

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Filed under Naive idealism, Rant, Things that work