Last night didn’t go the way I would have hoped. It was like watching one of my beloved sports teams lose in double overtime. The one thing I hate about late night competitions is that when they are done, win or lose, after a close battle my body is flowing with adrenaline and it’s next to impossible for me to sleep. Last night was that and more. I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious. I was scared. I was sad. I was shocked. I was angry. I was consumed by what I was thinking and feeling.
At 3:30 am I heard the TV on in the living room. I assumed someone left it on so I got up and went down the stairs to the living room expecting to find an empty room. Instead, on the couch, wide awake was my 16 year old son. He was watching CNN and the election results. I was still encased in my own fog to say much and retreated back to my bed to continue to sort out what this means.
I sat in my bed paging through Facebook hoping that sleep would descend upon me. As I did I saw several posts from both my sons who were heartbroken about the results of the election. My eldest was unfriending a friend on Facebook who turned a Trump win in to an indictment against Black Lives Matter. I wasn’t sure how one related to the other, but it didn’t matter. Before the election was officially called one of my son’s fears was realized. Someone from the other camp fresh off of a win felt the need to proclaim, “this win is proof that you don’t matter.” I didn’t know what to say or do to comfort my son.
My youngest was posting on Facebook how fearful he is now of how this new change would affect him, his young friends of color, his Muslim friends, woman and girls. I didn’t know what to say or do to comfort my son.
After two hours of sleep I woke up earlier than usual and again paged through Facebook and post after post I saw parents who are raising children of color all say the same thing. “How do I tell my children about the outcome of this election?”
Last week I sat on a panel of 11 diverse inviduals as we spoke about diversity and inclusion. I sat between a young Jewish student and a young African student. They both spoke about how learning about their ancestry and heritage is what created a sense of pride in who they are as Jewish and African woman. Hearing two young people share quit eloquently that if we don’t know who we come from it’s hard for us to feel pride about who we are was reassuring.
I am a child of color who was raised by white parents and I have taken on some of my parent’s White Privilege. My wife, a black woman raised by black parents, shakes off injustices much better than I do. My white privilege has convinced me that I have every right to what everyone else is afforded. My wife was raised with the understanding that we are part of an unfair system so when disappointment comes you may pause but only momentarily. The next morning we must forge forward; justice is not a given.
It is with this mentality that generations of blacks have gotten up after what appeared to be a devastating death blow. Today I tell my children that this is the bloodline that you have inherited. We have endured worse yet we still stand. We have been spat on, sprayed with fire hoses, bitten by police dogs and yet we rise. So pause but don’t break. That is not what you came from and there are generations who are calling you to get up. You are descended from royalty and royalty doesn’t bow. Stand tall my sons. You are strong, you are valuable, you are priceless, and you are worthy. This is a lesson in who you come from and through this set back you can find pride in who you are as a person.