The Way Forward
I was not anticipating the need to discuss racism, misogyny, and white privilege at 6 am this morning. Still battling the residuals of a flu-type bug and emotionally exhausted, I crashed last night at 10 pm -- nervous, but assuming that the tides would turn in favor of Hillary Clinton. I was relying on data. And also on human decency.
So at 6 am, about 30 seconds into attempting to process the disbelief and devastation over the reality that Donald Trump had won the election, Laurel came downstairs and immediately asked about the election results. I told her. She was visibly shaken. We sat together in disbelief and devastation. Over the next half hour as my brain scrambled to make sense of the election results, I distilled the way forward into the following tenets. I wanted to share them here because I hope they will be helpful to you and your families.
1. Our family remains
The core of our life’s work as parents -- to raise our kids to be good human beings -- remains in our home. We will continue to teach about love, acceptance, and diversity. We will continue to fight for issues and people we care about. No matter what is happening in the world, our family remains.
2. We have to keep working...and work harder
This election has made painfully clear the deep tides of racism and sexism in America. I kept telling Laurel, “We’re just going to have to work harder” and it made me think of my immigrant parents, who share the story of so many immigrants in America. They overcame so many odds to build their life and family in the US. In a post I wrote on love, kindness, and the power of healing wishes, I wrote that “hard things are the thing of life.” We as humans are designed to wrestle hard things. We have to keep working. And it’s clear from this election that we have to work even harder.
3. We can’t rely on assumptions
One of the things that I felt distressed about this morning was that data let me down. I fear that perhaps I rested on the predictive laurels of FiveThirtyEight too much. Though I was active in this election, the reality is, I could have done more. I am reminded today that there is no choice but to go all out when so much is on the line.
4. We need to deal with what is in front of us
During the course of the election, there have been many jokes about relocating. One of Laurel’s first questions this morning was whether we were moving to Canada (not a completely weird question given that Jon and I lived in Canada while I did my Ph.D., and I am a huge fan of Justin Trudeau). And I said, “No, we can’t move away from our problems, we need to move towards them.” Part of privilege is the ability to move away from problems -- which leaves people in need behind. It’s just not an option. We need to deal with what is in front of us.
5. We need to have the hard conversations
Donald Trump’s ascent has essentially been fueled by fear -- fear of diversity, fear of white privilege slipping away. And his victory unfortunately will embolden so many -- it will inspire racist acts, it will extend the beliefs that gender inequality is OK, it will perpetuate rape culture and bullying. Our mission as parents is to tackle those hard conversations head on, no matter how awkward and painful.
6. We need to have faith
When I was still scrambling to find the words to explain the election results to Laurel the first words out of my mouth were “It’s going to be OK.” It was a caregiver reflex and it took maybe a half dozen times of saying it before I realized how very important it is to believe that message -- to have faith. Faith and hope in our beliefs is what will help guide our way forward. I felt shattered when I woke up, but it is clear to me now that there is only one way to go from here, and that is forward.