My friends and I arrogantly prepared for a win — Hillary’s win (and in our minds—America’s win). We planned to meet at 1300 Fillmore, an elegant, high-end, nouveau-soul food restaurant in San Francisco that that is Black-owned. My crew gathers there for all of our celebrations—and this night was simply going to be another one—another one where we would leave sweaty, Uber-necessary tipsy, and elated.
The restaurant’s proprietor prepared for us and the evening’s festivities. She had a ten foot projection television in the back half of the dimly-lit, restaurant, Hilary posters littered throughout the bar, lounge and dining room areas, and a D.J. set-up to play dance music, so we could celebrate the way we like — swinging, swaying, dropping, boppin and twisting.
There was a long kids’ table set up along the front window of the restaurant, so our children could witness “history.” The first woman was going to be elected. We ordered plates of shrimp hushpuppies, fried chicken, greens, mac and cheese and bottles and bottles of wine.
But pretty quickly, it was evident that any party we had would have to be postponed to the weekend—at best—and may not happen at all. Things definitely did not go the way we so decadently planned.
When Hilary lost Ohio, I looked at my husband and said, “let’s go.” He motioned to my youngest son, who seemed to sense that this was one time that he better move quickly and not even think about asking to stay longer to hang with his friends. He and my husband left first as I hugged my friends goodbye. I smiled, did double-cheek kisses, pulled open 1300’s 13 foot, beautiful oak door and hoisted myself up into my husband’s black SUV.
“I can’t fucking believe it,” I shrieked before he could even put the car in drive, and broke down in body-quivering wails. I cried through the Fillmore district, over the Golden Gate Bridge , when we picked up our other son from a late basketball practice, until we got to our house– in an orchestra of different volumes and intensity.
I’ve read other people’s posts and how they presented a strong front to their children, so their children didn’t panic. For the 638,000th time, I made a major, or several major, parenting mistakes (I cursed and I cried. I panicked. Candidly, I went into “9-1-1, the fucking roof is falling” mode.
With chaotic flow and impassioned rhythm, I lectured my sons:
- Don’t you EVER again say to me, “But mom, my friends get to do it, why can’t I? You cannot get away with doing what your White friends do. You will go to prison; they will go to rehab. You will be a thug; they will be troubled. President Barack Obama could not have talked about grabbing women’s pussies and gotten a pass. The playing field remains unequal.
- Please finally understand that you do indeed have to work 10 times harder, to get half as much (and when you get that, many will say that it’s attributable to affirmative action and that you should be grateful to have it—as if it wasn’t earned, but permitted). Many people simply voted for Trump solely because he is a White man (many of them did so unconsciously and will vehemently argue with you that their vote was due to his policies or party affiliation; but they think a White man should be in power). Clinton, by all accounts, was the most technically qualified presidential candidate we have ever had. Trump hosted a reality show and ran a fraudulent university.
- Racism is real. It’s not something that old folks can’t get over; or something from back-in-the-day. It is and active issue that you will have to battle in big and little ways for the rest of your life. 51% of the country just endorsed an affirmatively racist, sexist, xenophobic and misogynist bigot.
- “There are more wolves in sheep’s clothing than you think.” The election showed that the ideologies of racism, sexism and xenophobia are not limited to the dark recesses of rural America. Fully half the country supported this candidate. That inherently included, friends, neighbors and classmates that you count as friends and that smile at you every day. An ounce of cynicism is warranted and don’t blindly trust people at face value.
I know these words sound rather harsh. But sometimes reality is harsh. My husband and I have always talked candidly with our kids — just as our parents did to us a generation ago. We’ve prepared them for how the world is, not merely how we wish the world would be. Just as we teach them how loving the world and some of its people can be, we also want to arm them for the flipside as well. We want them to know that despite these hurdles – ignorance, racism, fear — they can overcome anything. We absolutely expect them to overcome anything. It’s tough love, but it provides them with the armor they need to navigate this world.