Tuesday night I told my daughter when she woke up on Wednesday morning, a woman would be President. I felt excited that she would be witness to this historical event in her lifetime and I envisioned what she would be able to share with future generations.
Wednesday morning she anxiously checked the news for the final results and turned away, stunned. "I can't believe it, how did this happen?" was all she could utter in that dreary early morning hour.
We watched history being made on Tuesday. As a collective we chose to keep media off in terms of the news commentary and simply watched the electoral votes coming in on the New York Times election coverage. As our greatest fear was starting to become a reality, we chose to remain optimistic. My kids would hover over the numbers and then run out of the room when the electoral votes grew higher.
However, in my heart I knew. I knew it was over. Secretly I was having my own personal panic attack yet was trying to encourage my kids at the same time.
I told my husband as we turned in for the night that I hoped I would never wake up because the fear in me was real and mind numbing. I knew that was a cowardly statement but it in the midst of my panic, felt it was easier.
Wednesday morning none of us could speak on the way to school. My son had no words, my daughter sat in disbelief and I was completely non functional. But we showed up. My kids went to school, my husband and I went to work. We found solace in fellow friends and co workers and I found I was glad to be amongst colleagues who were equally shocked. I reminded myself and my children that God is God and we are not. We carried on with as much normalcy as we could muster. I encouraged my kids to be open in their dialogue at school and to call out any messages of hate.
Yet their sadness was evident. They were discouraged. My proud Feminist daughter witnessed a backward step for women and the acceptance that discrimination was not only tolerated, but encouraged.
I tried. I really did. I tried to encourage my kids yet it was hard because inwardly I was struggling right along with them. But I know we have a greater hope than this world so I pray I adequately conveyed that message.
My son asked if we could move out of the country. He texted me that his teacher was crying and he didn't know what to do.
So you can imagine the irony when I picked up my daughter from school that afternoon. Her first words to me upon opening the car door were, "I don't know if I want to continue attending this school."
Now before I write this let me preface with some facts about the town we live in. We live in a predominately white, upper class community. Kids go straight to Harvard upon graduation and the PSAT exams are offered to 8th graders. We live in a community that shirks away from diversity and prides itself on living within a safe bubble - a very rich bubble, mind you. A bubble that feels comfortably numb against the atrocities in our world.
A bubble where any homeless people that happen upon our town are quietly escorted out by the police and local police calls consist of reporting chicken walking down the street (yes, it was ours).
Our family does not fall into that camp. We are blue collar. We are union supporters, We use a budget. My husband's daughters are Chilean. We don't have a house cleaner and we do our own yard work. We don't own a beach house or a time share in Hawaii. We are known as the hippie house because we have a garden and chickens. Yet sadly, I've become jaded. Even though we fall under a different status, I've grown accustomed to the wealth and low crime rates in this town. I'm proud that we are able to send our kids to one of the best public school districts in the nation. I don't mind paying extra for groceries because we have some of the highest quality grocery stores at our disposal.
But now? Now I'm even more disgusted and outraged. Now I want out. Now I want to move.
My daughter showed me the front page of the school paper as it depicted in horrific, graphic detail threats that were made to students of different ethnicities and color. The article shared Facebook posts which threatened Jews and African Americans in ways I can't repeat. The posts were left up on the senior class Facebook page for ONE MONTH before a student came forward and reported it. And while no one commented or 'liked' on the post, it didn't matter because no one stood up and denounced such egregious behavior so they're just as guilty. In addition a poster describing what should happen to Jewish students was discovered in the school cafeteria after a teacher discovered students taking photos of it and laughing over the content. And that's just the beginning, if you can believe it.
A timeline was included which detailed 16 years worth of discrimination and hatred towards minority students. Of course, we know there is more. Plenty more of unreported threats and persecutions.
I started crying in the car as my daughter read me the articles. To the editorial staff's credit, they were stating in no uncertain terms that these words and messages of hate needed to be addressed, the perpetrators called out. They meant well and it was written with the greatest of intention. Yet it was the same rhetoric despite their best efforts. Letters from the district superintendent and principal followed soon after, explaining that such behavior wouldn't be tolerated and that 'education' was necessary in order to bridge the gap and build acceptance and equality.
I'm sorry, but if you need to be educated on the basic principle of human decency and equality, you're dumber than I thought and your parents are as well.
My first instinct was to send my kids to different schools but their father had a better point of view. "Don't just talk about change, BE the change." and I have to agree. Several of the affected students have chosen to stay in the school in hopes of "BEING" the change. I am humbled by such bravery and tenacity in the midst of such hatred.
This school needs more that are willing to stand and be counted as the ambassadors of equality, compassion and love for one another, especially in light of these current events that have shaken any hope of forward progress. I hope and pray my children are some of those ambassadors and that it will be a movement unlike any seen at this high school.
And it doesn't stop at my kid's school. It needs to be a world wide movement. As for me and my family, if we don't join in this fight we are just as bad as the students that allowed the Facebook posts to remain, shrouded in silence, contributing to the demise of humanity.
That bubble I spoke of? It needs to be popped.