Even before you came into our lives, I knew I wanted sons. Having a daughter would’ve been amazing, but deep down I felt there was a bigger calling — an opportunity to raise good men.
A good man (like your Dad) is honest, kind and respectful. He adores — and is faithful — to his partner and family. He is patient, open-minded and thoughtful. Confident, yet humble.
So, you can imagine how I felt a few nights ago, watching as our country chose its next President, a man who demonstrates none of those values — and is proud of it. Like millions of parents, I was awake into the early hours wondering how to break the news to you, Charlie. (Jack, you’re still a little guy and probably believe either Elmo or Hamilton is in charge.)
You may only be six years old, but you’ve been part of election discussions in our house for the past year. We watched the debates at dinner, we explained how our beliefs align with our candidate and also why we think others might believe differently (Dad is better at this than I am). We asked questions about what you thought. When your friend came over and shouted “Hillary SUCKS!,” we told both of you that petty name-calling was never acceptable.
So, on that gloomy, post-election morning I crawled into your bed and told you calmly that Hillary did not get enough votes and that Donald Trump would be our president. (Dad was on a biz trip, so this discussion was mine).
“But….? He’s so mean!”
We’ve had a few discussions since then. You wondered whether Donald Trump was a bully in first grade. When you asked if I hated him, I told you I mostly felt sorry for him; people who treat others so poorly usually don’t like themselves very much. I said I was sad about the people who voted for him — either because they agreed with the way he treats people or because they didn’t care enough about those who were the target of his behavior.
Like many of my friends, I’ve been in a fog this week. Shocked, for sure. Sad, undeniably. But I’m moving through the phases of grief closer and closer to anger.
I’m angry at myself.
I’m embarrassed for not thinking this could happen. For sheltering myself in a progressive bubble where everyone thinks like me. For my naivety about the deep-roots of racism, jingoism and sexism in this country.
I feel shame for doing absolutely nothing to affect the outcome of this election. I didn’t donate, make calls, sign petitions or walk neighborhoods. I went to one community meeting about racial justice, but stopped going because — god, this is so humiliating to admit — the meeting conflicted with the day my friends and I usually watch “The Bachelorette.”
This stops now.
My boys, you may be too young to remember anything about this election, but this will be the point in your lives when you begin to see your mother act.
Checks will be written. Groups will be joined. Work will be done.
And soon, hopefully, you’ll want to join, too. Because being a good man — especially one with your skin color — also means having the courage to fight against injustice and work toward equality.