My 6-year-old daughter woke up with bright eyes Wednesday morning and ran to grab her Hillary buttons so she could pin them on her backpack. She was so excited to celebrate the first woman president’s victory. Instead, I had to tell her that Hillary had lost.
“Another boy president?” she asked in the car on the way to school, still bewildered. “No girls?”
I walked her to her first-grade classroom and realized she was still carrying those “Stronger Together” and Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It” buttons. She cradled them in her palm, looked them over for a second, then carefully placed them into her backpack pocket. As I hugged her goodbye and walked away, my heart shattered into a million pieces. She is a little mixed girl and this country belongs to her less today than it did just a week ago.
Now, with Trump naming proud white supremacist and anti-semite Steve Bannon as White House Special Advisor, our new leadership is doing nothing to quell the anxieties that have people marching in streets across America.
You may think I’m a “Coastal Elite” and I don’t get it. But my grandma lived in a trailer as long as I knew her. My Grandpa was a maximum security prison guard. I have seen up-close how economic hardship fractures families. The emasculating helplessness the man of the house feels at not being able to provide can make him reclaim his manhood in destructive ways. And a woman will do almost anything to help build him back up, even if it doesn’t always feel right to her.
Hillary would have been our first woman president, beating the first nominee to brag about sexual assault. But white women overwhelmingly voted for Trump. It is so hard to understand why without jumping to the explanation of racism. Black women, who have their own economic and marital concerns, and who had justifiable grievances with Hillary Clinton, voted to save the republic from a volatile, misogynistic, and openly bigoted candidate.
If you live in the heartland, I can see how Hillary and her Democratic Party probably appear to care more about minorities, gay people, climate change and free trade than they do about you. And your husband who used to sit at the head of the table may now feel like the rest of the country is eating off his back.
What do we do now? If you voted for Trump but say you are not a racist, then I have an invitation for you.
Please stand with me in saying Trump can’t name a white supremacist as his closest White House advisor. Let’s call the local district offices for our Senators and Representatives and tell them that we are the United States of America and white supremacists do not represent us.
People are not protesting in the streets because they can’t handle the outcome of a fair election. They’re protesting to keep America from becoming the kind of nation our ancestors fled to get here.
But tens of millions of us thought we were moving past a legacy of hate. We set an example for democracies around the world, ended slavery, won black people and women the right to vote, liberated Europe after WWII, reached the moon, invented the internet.
We are at a crossroads. And regardless of our choice in the voting booth, this is the moment to decide whether or not we are America’s better angels.