This August in our neighborhood playground, a child threatened my toddler son, saying “Trump will kick you out of here when he becomes President.” For the past two months I’ve been praying for the victory of Hillary Clinton, so that I can tell my child “hate never wins”. The polls gave me some hope. But on the night of November 8, as the election results rolled in, I saw a very different America than the polls had predicted.
I put my child to bed that night right before the Canadian immigration website crashed. I stayed up late, thinking about how I would explain this to him. A few hours later, he woke up full of questions. He asked me if she had won. I told him no.
“But I want Hillary to be my president!”
“I know, baby.” I held him tight. He is too young to understand the candidates’ policies; all he knows is that if Donald Trump is in the white house, the bullies in the playground get a good line to yell at him.
Once again, I assured him, “We are American, this is our home, no one is going to kick us out of here, not even Trump.”
I’ve been repeating this to him for the past two months. Apparently it’s not enough. He asked me if we’re moving to Asia to be with his grandparents. I told him no.
“But I don’t like Trump!”
“But you do like America, don’t you?”
He thought about it carefully and then nodded.
“That’s right, baby. As long as it doesn’t change, we’re here to stay.”
“But I’m upset.”
“That’s okay, baby. I’m upset, too. We all get upset sometimes. But we’ll be fine,” I told him.
“If anybody ever tells you that Trump will kick you out of the country, just say, ‘No, I am American, this is my home, no one can kick me out of here.’”
He practiced the sentence a couple of times and seemed to be comforted.
There is so much more that I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him it’s not the end of the world. I wanted to tell him that human beings are resilient. I wanted to tell him that we can do better than running away. I just don’t know how to make a 3-year-old understand all of these things.
In spite of all the frustrations at this moment, I still believe in America. Sure, the election had modeled the exact opposite of the values I believe in and hope to instill in my children: the xenophobia that came directly out of Trump’s campaign has harmed my family. But I see that most of my fellow American don’t believe in the racism and sexism either. Clinton won the popular vote. Which means the majority of American believe that women should be paid the same as men, they care about climate change, they don’t want the implementation of aggressive surveillance programs that target certain ethnic groups.
This is the moment not to sit down with frustration, but to stand up and fight against discrimination, bigotry and hate. And there is so much we can do. We can volunteer. We can donate. There is Showing Up For Racial Justice that combats racism, Planned Parenthood that gives women the opportunities for proper healthcare, ACLU that upholds the individual rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. Most of all, as parents, we can continue teaching our children the values we believe in: honesty, gender equality, love. The election changed none of that.
Just like President Obama said on election day, “The sun will rise in the morning.”
What was your reaction to the US Presidential election? Did you or will you talk to your kids about it?
This is an original post to World Mom Network by To-Wen Tseng. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang.