While my husband stayed up late last night to watch the final results of the 2016 presidential election roll in, I retreated to my bed, too sick to continue watching what now seemed inevitable. I tossed and turned beneath the sheets, my stomach aching, and finally cried myself to sleep.
It was my daughter's voice that awakened me the next morning. As I lay there in bed, blankets pulled up to my chin, hands clutching my stomach, I felt unreality wash over me. Could what I was remembering really have happened last night? Had America really voted for a platform built upon pure hate?
The mood in my house this morning was subdued. My husband and I were silent as I did the usual start-the-day-type things: Brushing my teeth, making the bed, cleaning up cat puke. It all seemed too normal. Finally, I entered my daughter's room. What will this mean for you? I thought as she rolled over and smiled at me, her cheeks flushed, her hair plastered to the sides of her face. This isn't the world in which I wanted to raise you.
I've since been crying off and on all day. In fact, I'd like nothing more than to slide back beneath the sheets of my bed, pull the comforter up to my chin, curl up into the fetal position, close my eyes. But I remembered the handful of tweets that had leapt out at me the night before as I was following the race on social media. The tweets that were a call to action.
I want to mourn what has happened. God, do I want to mourn. Or sleep. Or give up. Or flee. But persecuted populations need us to fight even harder for them now. The people we love need us. Our children need us.
What can we do?
Just for a start:
Continue to support organizations who are working for social justice. These are the people who will ensure that the resounding call for a Trump presidency that we heard last night is not the final word.I started making a number of small donations to various organizations this morning, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Black Lives Matter, and will continue to do so. If you're looking for ideas on where to start, check out this list.
Amplify the voices of those who continue to need our understanding and our empathy and our action. This morning, feeling hopeless and helpless and unsure of what to do, I wrote a post for another site on books you can read if you'd like to become more involved in social justice activism. It was small. But it was something. And we need more of it. If you see information out there that can enable more empathy and understanding and hope, share it.
Support the causes you fight for with more than just a click of a button. Yes, these organizations and these movements need financial and social support. But they can also use your voice and your time. So write letters or make phone calls to your representative in congress when they are doing something with which you don't agree. Write a letter to your local paper, because making your voice and your story heard can change minds. Use a site like VolunteerMatch to find local organizations you can help out in person.
Have difficult conversations with those who engage in hateful rhetoric or behavior. Even if you're conflict-avoidant. We can no longer afford to keep quiet.
Raise your child to embody the values you wish had won out last night. Teach them respect. Teach them to act with love and acceptance. Teach them to stand up against hate and fear.
Allow your children to feel safe expressing their sadness. If they are afraid or saddened, make it clear that you will fight to keep them safe. That you will always fight for their future. Let them know that it is OK for them to feel what they are feeling. That it's normal. And that you're there to listen to them. Reassure them that this is not the end of the world, and that they are safe and loved.
Just the other day, in the lead-up to the election, Rebecca Solnit wrote that, whether Trump or Clinton won, what happened next would be up to us. "...[I]t matters who is president," she wrote, "but what a president does has everything to do with what the people demand or refuse or do themselves..."
My 2-year-old daughter has been in such a good mood this morning. She doesn't know what just happened. She couldn't possibly understand. Instead, she spent her morning dancing around the plate of bananas she'd placed in the center of the kitchen floor, contentedly reading all the books on her shelves, running up to me periodically to give me hugs. Seeing her smile makes me want to do better.
This feel so much like an end. But we can let it be a beginning. We can teach our children that, sometimes, a fight is exactly what is required of us.
So fight we will.