By Zerline Hughes
My children say some of their classmates are Donald Trump supporters. To prove it, last spring, the boy brought home a Trump shirt he found in the school’s lost and found. I was verklempt, to say the least. At ages 11 and 13, they know what Trump represents, but they don’t know-know. Heck, for the last eight years, their president was a cool Black dude with swagger, genuineness and tact. Since they were five and three years old, they’ve understood that America is a pretty decent place (until I started regularly teaching them the ills of our country). They didn’t see color (until I took many opportunities to remind them that it existed). And they didn’t know about the various disparities that exist (until I turned them into mini-criminal justice reform and human rights advocates).
But today starts a new day. November 9, 2016. The day after the Clinton-Trump election.
One of their 8th grade school mates this morning took to Snap Chat to tell everyone to calm down; he said the presidency doesn’t even affect people their age. Ah, how sweet. And naive.
My son will endure whatever Trump brings for the next four years. He’ll be 18 at the end of his term. My son will have endured Trump’s heinous verbal attacks on minorities (and maybe worse). He’ll have watched more police killings of Black men. And his chances at attending college may be negatively impacted. How great for my son’s self esteem as he enters adulthood.
And for my sassy, “nasty woman” child: she will be in the most formative of her years as a teen entering womanhood. But she will endure a president telling her that her body is not, in fact hers to make decisions about. She will be led by a president who has taken advantage of women, disrespected them, and allegedly abused them. What a great message to my daughter.
So, yeah – the presidency DOES affect kids!
Lucky for these two, (and really, it’s not lucky at all), their mother has overexposed them to life. I’ve allowed them to watch the “Purge” movie series which gives them a peek into humanity’s hatred. I’ve made them watch “13th,” Ava DuVernay’s documentary comparing mass incarceration to slavery. I have serious discussions with them weekly, if not daily, on the harsh realities (and beauties) of being Black in America – or any other country for that matter. And next month, they will, for the first time, visit the new National Museum of African American History & Culture to give them a complete understanding of the Black experience.
So, they are armed. They are ready for the next four years. I’m not so sure I am, but I feel like they have a good foundation. My preference, like many others have threatened, is to move. To run away. To seek refuge. But my son doesn’t want his schooling and friendships disrupted. He’s at a great place that respects him. A place that makes him feel like he has a voice. A place that genuinely allows him and all other students to be unique and comfortable in the skin they’re in.
My daughter, however, is down to leave. She says we can leave the guys stateside, and we can find refuge together abroad.
But one thing’s for sure: these two are not backing down, cowering, or jumping on the bandwagon. Nope, Not These Two. They’re ready, aware and equipped for what’s to come. I just wish I could say the same.
Here’s to another chapter of child rearing. Can’t wait till it ends already …