The 2016 election is officially over and the US now has another president waiting in the wings: Donald Trump. Like many others in this country, I have been trying to grasp this new reality and what it means for our future and our children's future. And as I fight to find the right words to convey how I'm feeling, CNN analyst Van Jones's emotional reaction to Trump's win -- and what it means for parents who encourage their kids to live a life of love and inclusion -- sums up my fears ... and reinvigorates the dedication I have to making sure America is great for everyone.
Once the reality of Trump's being the president-elect set in this morning, I took time to pause, reflect, and pray (hard) before heading into my children's room to fill my heart with their unconditional love and laughter. Luckily for my kids, ignorance is still bliss, as they're 2 and 1. They're unbothered by Donald Trump's win, the judges he'll nominate, or the actions he'll take while in office.
The only "Donald" they care about right now is a duck, and they are focused on important "issues" like having crayons, snacks, Mickey Mouse, and Sesame Street.
Trump's presidency will affect our family (as it will yours), but at least I can bask in the small victory of not having to explain to my kids how a man who's made so many polarizing and hurtful comments about a number of minority groups is now responsible for all of us ... and the nuclear codes.
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I was spared this troubling conversation, but sadly, many parents -- including Van Jones -- were not.
Jones did not mince his words on CNN early this morning. After congratulating fellow commentators who supported Trump on a likely victory, Van expressed his concerns about the outcome of this election and what it means for families who reflect the very groups who've been at the center of some of Trump's upsetting and discriminatory remarks:
It's hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids 'don't be a bully.' You tell your kids 'don't be a bigot.' You tell your kids 'do your homework and be prepared.' And then you have this outcome -- and then you have people putting their kids to bed tonight, and they're afraid of breakfast. They're afraid of, how do I explain this to my children.
.... When you say you want to 'take your country back,' you got a lot of people who feel we're not represented well, either. But we don't want to feel like someone's been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.
This is so scary and so very true.
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I'm a firm believer of trying to lead with love and not divisiveness (finger-pointing and cursing those who voted for Donald Trump is unproductive), and I truly hope that many of Trump's sentiments in his victory speech are realized. I hope, for the sake of our children, we can find some way to "unify our great country," realize our full potential, and "reclaim our country's destiny and dream big and bold and daring."
All of that sounds wonderful and are aspirations all of us -- no matter our political affliation -- should strive for.
... I just hope these words manifest in reality.
Although my current election shock has more to do with the candidate and less with the party (we've survived bad presidents from both sides of the aisle), Donald Trump's winning this election empowers me to get more involved -- for the sake of my children and yours, too.
I want my kids to live in a world where love trumps hate. My boys will grow up knowing we don't all need to agree on every issue to have the compassion and grace in our hearts to hear our neighbors, understand their journey, and fight together to make the changes necessary to ensure liberty and justice are for all.
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My sons will see their mother involved in the community we love to call home, serving others, and finding more ways to effect change. They will come to understand that just because you're the minority (I'm a black woman who moved into an ultra-conservative middle-class area governed solely by men) does not mean you can't make a difference. History has proven that to not be true time and time again.
I know it's probably crazy to be so optimistic about these next four (possibly eight) years, but I need to hold on to some semblance of hope that everything has the potential to be okay for the sake of my sanity and staying the course. If I remain frightened about the dark places this country can find itself in (Trump's words about "law and order" and bringing back "stop and frisk" scare me on so many levels -- and I'm a cop's daughter), I can't be the light my children and family need.
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Whether you love every aspect of Donald Trump or despise him to no end, he's going to be our next POTUS. And as the smoke clears and the confetti settles from this election, all of us need to find some way to come together for the sake of our children and future generations.
As fearful as I sometimes get thinking about the 45th president of the United States, I can only pray all of us will do our part to be more loving and more inclusive.
So if you happen to be one of the parents struggling to find just what the hell to tell your kids, let them know there can be light at the end of the tunnel -- that this nation is changing and becoming more diverse by the day. The electoral college might've spoken (Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote), but that doesn't mean we have to retreat silently into the night.
Because the best reaction we can have as parents is action and to become the change we wish to see for our children.
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