Yesterday, I took my youngest daughter to the polls with me, fully believing that I was voting for the first female President. I’d been pretty emotional about it for two days. We talked about the process. We talked about why it was so monumental. We talked about all that had been lost for women to have the right to vote and how long that took.
Last night I drove three teens to dance. We all laughed as they pulled up funny videos of both candidates. They bust a gut on Hillary’s “seizure” video. We giggled at videos of Trump’s speeches talking about Jay Z’s language while overlaying recordings of him using similar or worse speech. Still, these totally a-political girls were essentially begging me to tell them he would not be President. I told them things were looking good.
Two hours later, our car mood had shifted. Early results were not, in fact, looking good, and we all lamented the things were couldn’t believe he’d said. We talked about fears. I told them it was still early. I also told them our lives would probably not fundamentally change no matter who was President. That many of the big claims made were unlikely to happen.
Still, we understood what this meant, for us. For women and girls.
I’ve spend my life—there may be an archive somewhere of my little feminist self on WEKZ spouting how girls were just as good as boys—studying and teaching about gender and culture. The last six months have been incredibly hard to watch. Public political speeches, Facebook posts, Tweets, and comments on news articles revealed that racism and sexism were not only not gone (though I knew they never had been) but were shockingly no longer embarrassing to admit, that people were proud to use those words and to demean others again.
This morning, I read a victory speech from a candidate whose campaign unearthed some very cold truths about what Americans believe regarding race and gender.
His speech was as humble as any he’s ever given. He espoused ideas about improving infrastructure that we can all get behind. I have to hope for good things to come. But hope is not enough.
Many of my friends are asking “What do I tell my kids? What will I say to my daughters? How do I explain this to my son?”
One responded, “Teach him how to be a good citizen and he will grow up to change the world!”
What’s hard today is that I thought we already had. I thought Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had changed the world. I thought Martin Luther King, Jr. had changed the world. I thought Barack Obama had changed the world.
Hell, I thought I’d done it, one hundred students a semester at a time.
I thought my girls could feel confident that they would be rewarded for their competence.
But she’s right, of course. That’s what we must do. We have to continue to be a voice of light. To support each other.
Trump can win the Presidency, but hopefully we can all still lose the hate.
May hope and love find you. May they be the tools you need to change the world ... again.