The Day Everything Changed

This morning was brutal. Like other parents, we had to tell our children that Trump would become our next president. They were confused and had a lot of questions, even at their tender ages, and it was hard to put on an “everything is okay” face.

At one point my oldest handed me a sticky note which read, “Donold Trup is a sucker.” After explaining that her comment wasn’t nice, she snapped back like only a sassy little girl can, “Trump calls people names and he’s going to be president!” A teachable moment, right? Well like a good mommy, I told her that we have to be better than even the president some times. The real mommy in me wanted to high-five her and rant about the many reasons he should not have gotten this far.

But what’s the point in that now, really? Ranting isn’t going to change things. It’s over, right? Trump was elected and now life will go back to normal for a lot of Americans. But for many of us, life feels anything but normal. We woke up in a new, surreal world and it feels incredibly personal that our fellow American brothers and sisters didn’t have our backs. Everything feels different, mostly because we are uncertain, almost feeling displaced, and we feel tremendously betrayed.

For almost a year we had someone showing us that he didn’t value people like us, that he wanted to grab us where it counts, that he would bully or speak his mind in unfathomable ways. We had someone running for the highest office in our country, the most powerful position in the world, and he did very little to gain our confidence and trust. Instead he seemed to go out of his way to reinforce negative feelings by being insensitive and inappropriate. He quickly showed a lot of us that his candidacy was about so much more than just running for office–it was about morals and values and humanity.

The lack of real apathy from fellow Americans, given everything this man said and did throughout his candidacy, is troubling. I know many people who supported Trump are not racist or sexist people but by voting for him, you have literally empowered others that are, to come out of hiding, and that’s just one thing you’ve enabled. To all the people that don’t believe in racism but supported Trump because he won’t raise taxes for you, which is more important? To all the people that appreciate and value women but still supported Trump because he doesn’t represent the political establishment, which is more important? To all the parents that understand the importance of modeling the right things for children and yet still supported Trump because well, he’s a Republican, which is more important? The fact that the line in the sand isn’t crystal clear to countless Americans–that they don’t grasp that some things are more important than money, politics, personal gain, party lines–is what’s most mind-boggling.

Remember, there were many good and decent people during slavery, and there were also many horrible and mean slave owners. Far too often, the good and decent people just idly watched as the horrible and mean people did whatever they wanted. The good and decent people rationalized their lack of action because it didn’t impact them, they wanted to stay out of it, they didn’t see anything wrong with it, or because it was legal. But was it morally right? And that my friend, was why I was certain that my fellow American brothers and sisters would have my back and never allow someone with morals like Trump to become President of the United States. I thought America was composed of fundamentally good and decent people, and that these people understood what Trump represents.

I know, I know, I brought up slavery. I’m taking it back to that–back a whole, whopping 150 years (after having lasted for roughly 245 years). Many will probably roll an eye now that this word has been mentioned, or perhaps they will simply click to surf elsewhere (to something more comfortable). I know a lot of Americans feel that slavery is our past, that we should get over it and be present today. But the same hate that fueled unthinkable behavior many years ago during slavery was just blatantly supported by millions of Americans. When Trump was just a candidate it was easy to consider that he got there by fluke, by some wacky process that just messed up. But now, with tallied votes and the path set, it’s clear that everything that Trump stands for is alive and well, and in fact majorly supported in America.

If you’re open-minded and want to understand how people like me feel, then here it is. You have hurt my feelings. You have betrayed my trust in your ability to do what’s morally right. You have sent me a signal that you support racism/sexism in some fashion, as long as it doesn’t directly impact you. You have made me question what it means to be safe in my own country. You have created a world for my children that is scary and unchartered. And, you have elevated a level of mistrust and divisiveness that only comes from betrayal, because again, you voted for a man who threatens my ability to thrive in America.

And now what? I’m suppose to rally behind this person and call him my president? In any ordinary election, I’d be on board. But with Trump, it just doesn’t seem remotely possible. And how do I get behind the notion of working alongside people who voted for someone who doesn’t like people like me and in fact demonstrates morally questionable values?  I know some might argue that Hillary Clinton’s moral compass wasn’t in tact either, but I’ll just ask, would her perspectives cost someone their life? Would her morals empower such hate among people that they threaten everything that is remotely decent about humanity?

Big sigh. I don’t have any real answers just yet. Now, like so many, I’m waffling through the hours today–feeling grief and sadness in one moment, then stress eating Halloween candy in the next with occasional bouts of “what can I do?” notions, and rounded out with silent prayer.

As human beings, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, Republican, Democrat, etc., today is the day that our values were set back as a country. Today we have managed to elevate a palpable fear to a monumental and historic level. Today, everything changed.

Published by Lisa Meyers Johnson

Lisa Meyers Johnson is the creator of Listen Little Girl, a blog dedicated to her eight-year-old daughter. Lisa created the blog because she knows that being a little girl isn't easy and becoming a woman can be even harder. She hopes that by sharing her experiences, thoughts, and life lessons, it will empower her daughter, and moms and girls everywhere, to support one another along the journey of being/becoming a woman. Lisa currently consults with nonprofits and teaches graduate and undergraduate students about public relations for nonprofits at the University of Southern California. Prior to this, Lisa was an accomplished communications, marketing, and development professional and worked for organizations including the American Cancer Society, Magic Johnson Enterprises/Magic Johnson Foundation, ABC, Ketchum Public Relations, and Black Entertainment Television. Find her @lisabrandgirl on IG, Lisa Meyers Johnson on FB and @brandgirl on Twitter.

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