You were born on Presidents’ Day. At 8 and a half months old you have just experienced your first Presidential election. I hoped that this election would be historic. I hoped that, for the first time, a woman would be elected to the White House. I was thrilled that the woman I thought would win was Hillary Clinton, who has spent her whole career standing up for woman’s rights.
Instead, I woke up on Wednesday 9 November to discover Donald Trump had been elected President of the country we currently call home. This is a man who has bragged about groping women, threatened Latinos, Muslims and Blacks, and treated his own employees like human garbage.
There are lots of articles in the media about how we explain Clinton’s defeat to our daughters. Many parents had hoped Clinton would shatter the final glass ceiling so that no little girl would ever have to ask: can a woman be President too?
As the mother of a son I know that our conversation will be a bit different. One day I will have to explain to you that we live in a world where you can be sexist, misogynistic and racist and still be elected to the most powerful position in the land. I will have to tell you that you can lie and cheat and threaten and still be able to run a country. We will have to talk about the heartbreaking fact that we live in a place where a man can behave like an animal and still be rewarded with fame, fortune and power.
What does that mean for you, my baby boy? It means you’re going to have to look harder for your heroes. You can’t rely on world leaders or business leaders or celebrities to set an example worth following. You’re going to have to search high and low for your role models because in today’s world the ones worthy of your aspirations won’t necessarily make it to the top.
Look to those championing minority rights, look to those fighting for justice, look to white men and black men and white women and black women and gay men and lesbians and Muslims and Christians and Jews. Remember that inspiration comes in all shapes, sizes and colours, baby boy: search hard enough and you will find it.
Finally, Albert, while I grapple with raising you to treasure diversity and respect others, I know there are people who woke up this morning with much greater concerns than mine.
There are Muslims who wondered if it was safe to wear the hijab, Latinos who worried if they’ll face deportation, poor families afraid of losing their healthcare, and mothers of gay teenagers concerned if their children will face abuse at school.
We are white, we have another country we call home, and we are relatively wealthy. As things stand, we are very privileged, and we should never, ever forget that. It’s self-interest, it’s a disregard for the struggles faced by those less privileged than themselves that enabled Trump to become President.
I love you, Albert. I promise I’ll try to make this a better world, where the real heroes rise to the top.