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When Love Doesn’t Trump Hate, What Do We Tell Our Children?

Confused.

Wondering how we got it all so wrong.

Missing Obama already. Thinking about how hard it is to sell hope. Grappling with what it feels like to be on the losing side for the first time.

Reminding myself that upswings in history are frequently followed by downswings. After Emancipation came Jim Crow.

Ready to listen to those who are hurt on both sides to try to find answers. Ready to learn from the silent majority. Curious as to what they need and think they need. Wanting to break down walls instead of building them up. Willing to tell my story in response.

Recognizing that I maybe I’m not ready. I need some time to be silent. To recover.

Worried about teachers and parents. Worried about children. What on earth do we tell them? Wondering how we dismantle the validation of bullying and bigotry that we have endured for the last 18 months.

Tired.

Exhausted.

Needing self-care. Wanting to sleep for a long time and then to wake up from this dream.

Worried about the Supreme Court.  Will women retain control of their bodies? Will I keep my right to marry? Wondering if the LGBTQ community—the most diverse coalition I know of on earth—will finally come together and recognize the plights of the communities that reside between the letters?

Wondering why rich, white men seem to always win?  Crying because I know the answer. I saw it unfold in numbers emblazoned in red on a map during the event that typifies our democracy.

59,578,825 votes…

Excited to dig into possibly the most difficult work of my life thus far. Marveling how the universe seems to unfold as it is supposed to. Realizing that it is quite possible that I was made to be a champion in this moment. Knowing that I need vision to lead. Trying to regain my sight while in darkness. Wondering if I need glasses.

Realizing that I am a minority within a minority within a “new” minority in this country. Wondering when I get to be in the center and not in the margins? Reminding myself that there is a unique view of the center and whole from the edges. Reminding myself to use that perspective. Revel in it.

Remembering that when I got spanked as a kid, it was because I needed to reframe my reality. I needed a jolt back into consciousness to see what was truly happening around me. I needed a push to change my direction.

Seeing this as a slap on the bottom for all those who believed that we were in a “post-racial world” and those who believed that America was finally in a better place because we were overtly talking about race (and admitting that I was one of those latter people).

Acknowledging that everyone’s wounds are felt as real, regardless of if we share in that pain or not. Despite all the advances we thought we made, if any of us look down we will see that all of our feet are still in the mire and muck. They always have been.

Reminding myself that racism and bigotry impact everyone. That we all have biases. That not everyone who voted for Trump did so because they overtly hate me or people like me. Reminding myself that it feels that way regardless. Trying to work through the pain.

Thinking that we all still have a tremendous amount of work to do. Hoping that those who have been in the work choose to not give up despite feeling this setback. Hoping those who have been in the middle, who weren’t sure if bigotry was a reality see that it truly is. It is a large part of who we are as a country. It always has been. It was written into our constitution.

Feeling sorry for not listening enough and sorry for not augmenting voices that need to be louder. Sorry for not teaching both sides how to articulate their woes in a way that is honest and concurrently gives respect and credence to divergent or opposite voices and opinions.

Recognizing that difference—an word that I use and talk about all the time—has become an abstraction. How do we make that which is abstract into that which is tangible? How do we turn the idea of difference into “This is someone whom I know and whom I care about”? Recognizing that so many of those people who are different from me are in middle-America. They are not my Facebook friends.

Knowing it will be hard for those who have been historically marginalized to listen to the plight of those who voted for  to “make America great again.” Wondering if it is fair that we who have been historically marginalized since the birth of this country will be asked to listen to an overwhelmingly white, straight, male majority articulate their pain. What is it that makes their lives so bad?

Wondering when privilege and marginalization became a zero sum game? Wondering how do we make it so that everyone wins? How do we change the rules? How change the game up entirely?

Wondering how can I immerse myself in my own communities and build them up? How do I leverage my privilege to help others?

Thinking about children, again. My students. My baby niece. What will I tell them?

I will tell them that they are valued despite anything that anyone says.

I will tell them that we will protect them, no matter what.

I will tell them to have hope despite their circumstances. It is their greatest weapon.

I will tell them that we must always move forward, never backward.

I will tell them that we can give voice to the voiceless and those who are frequently silenced if we make noise together.

I will tell them that we cannot shout. We must learn to harmonize polyphonically.

I will tell them that this is their America and they must always fight to keep it that way.

I will tell them that this is our America and we have to work together to keep it that way.

I will tell them that they must give themselves time to heal and reflect, that it is okay to cry.

I will tell them to be resilient and to endure.

I will tell them to mourn today and that the work begins tomorrow.

I will tell them that it is time for action.

I will tell them to engage. Take in everything. Remember this moment. Let it fuel them. Be ignited.

I will tell them that it is time for all of us to work to make America great for all for the first time.

I will tell them that love does always ultimately win.

I will tell them to love.

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