The Children Are Scared

At a coffee shop, I overheard two gentlemen speaking about voting for Donald Trump. One man asked his friend why he voted for Trump. He replies, "What the hell, I just wanted change!"

I'm all for change. I too am frustrated. All my work is about change and impacting poverty. However, I would never say "what the hell!" Not all change is good. In this case the change that Donald Trump plans to bring is scary. It is scary for millions of Americans. It is scaring entire families. It is scaring children. There are consequences to change.

On the day after the election, I started hearing from some of the families enrolled in the Family Independence Initiative (FII), the project I founded, that they too were scared. A colleague from another organization also emailed that many of her families were scared. Her own nine-year-old niece was scared because she was Mexican and had heard what Trump had said about Mexicans, even though she had legal immigration status. Families across this country are scared of Trump following up on this threats of deportation or exclusion, of stop and frisk, of the KKK feeling more powerful and of their children hearing more put-downs and racial slurs now that it is politically correct to slander others.

Another colleague also shared how the morning after the election he took his two-year-old son for a walk and started to speak in Spanish to him but was overtaken with fear. A fear he had developed when he was a child and you were put down for speaking Spanish. He was wondering if we are going back to those times. He continued "Our friend/nanny and I had a good cry this morning as her immigration status in this country is now in jeopardy. My cousins and many friends spread throughout the United States are in the same situation. It was not that long ago that it would have affected my parents as well."

On a very personal level, there are consequences to the vote that just happened to families that are both vulnerable and also contributors to our society. What I know of the families that FII has been tracking for 15 years is that they will show up to clean our hotel rooms and yards. They will pick our food at wages that keep the prices low for you and I. And no matter their immigration status they all pay taxes. Everyday, they create jobs that go un-recognized when they start construction businesses to repair our homes and sell tamales from their kitchens. These are good people, contributors. Walmart couldn't do without them and shouldn't want them deported, frisked and put in jail or kept out of our country. None of us should want to exclude them, let alone have them live scared. This was not an ordinary election. It was a scary election.