I woke up yesterday morning struggling to be brave enough to walk out my front door and face the flood of emotions surging throughout the country.
But instead of stepping out to into the division, the upset and the chaos, I took a deep breath and sat down in front of my computer screen to read the words of my community—words that filled my newsfeed and my inbox with confusion, distress, disappointment, anger and sadness.
Yet, I spotted in there—hidden amidst the strife—a sprinkling of hope.
As you can tell by the graphic included, voters age 18-34 didn’t ally with bigotry, racism or hate in this election. The next generation voted with progressive minds and open hearts.
So, as a woman in her late 20s, halfway through her schooling to become a licensed therapist, I’ve thought a lot about what I would say to my young clients, or to my children if I were a mom today. I penned an open letter for Facebook, to offer my words to the other teachers, moms and therapists in my newsfeed and my personal community, but because of the current climate I felt afraid to post it.
Perhaps that’s representative of where we stand as women today. We’re realizing that it doesn’t feel safe to use our voices, because our rights and our voices aren’t honored everywhere that we go. The same goes for any minority group that now feels oppressed or ostracized in light of our recent election and its results.
But that doesn’t mean we should stay quiet; it just means that we need to find our safe space to build a foundation to stand upon and speak. We need to join together to build steps, platforms and bridges throughout our country, so we can work together to assure that everyone is heard, all needs are met, and everyone is equally honored and respected.
Today I wanted to honor the needs of our frightened children, especially young girls or children of recently targeted minority groups. Today I wanted to send an open letter to the other therapists, teachers, parents and community members who support them, to offer some comforting words that they can use if this election has left them speechless. Thank you, elephant journal, for offering a platform for women like me to use our voices and to be heard with honor and respect.
If I could openly share my heart on Facebook, without fear that it would get trampled, this is what I would write:
“I don’t usually take to Facebook to speak out about anything political, but my newsfeed is so full this morning, and this has got my heart.
Because most of my community consists of progressive teachers and therapists, my newsfeed is full of questions about what to tell our children today. While I’m not an expert (perhaps none of us are right now), I can tell you what I would tell my own children if I were a parent. Maybe it’s what we need to tell ourselves.
I would tell my children that sometimes, because hate is loud, someone with discriminatory thoughts and unkind intentions falls into a position of power. While it’s okay to feel mad, sad, frustrated or scared, it isn’t okay to allow your feelings to make you hateful.
It’s important to know that when people come together out of mutual respect and love instead of shared hate, they have the potential to make invaluable progress. Hate constructs walls, but love builds bridges. So instead of using our feelings to divide us and fuel a fight today, let’s look to one another to really see and hear each others’ needs.
Let’s not view this as a setback or a defeat, but instead an opportunity to fix something in our country that was clearly already broken. Let’s decide to learn together what it truly means to take care of each other, to protect one another’s civil and human rights, to learn how to not only unite despite our differences, but to honor and celebrate those differences as they’re what make us smarter and stronger as a whole.
Those of us who feel like an oppressed minority today, we are safe, because today we’ll come together out of love and a shared hope for change and a fair future. We won’t let anything happen to one another. We’ll be the underdogs that joined hands to not only protect each other, but to override division and discrimination to create a place where everyone is entitled to security, opportunity and respect. We’re going to be okay, because we’re going to work on being okay together.
And I would tell our girls to keep dreaming. Keep hoping. Keep working. One of you is going to become our first female president. And when you do, you get to be the first woman to turn over the biggest table in U.S. history. We’re all here to help you build the bridges to get there.”
Author: Candice Mitchell
Editor: Travis May