I apologize in advance for this post. My feelings and emotions are still a bit of a wreck after this past Tuesday. I honestly had a bad feeling about the election for awhile and even shut down my social media accounts because I just could not read and dialogue about the ugliness anymore.
Last week was rougher than I even anticipated. The last time I felt so disheartened and depressed was when my grandmother passed away during the summer of 2014. This week I barely slept, prayed earnestly while crying, I didn’t eat until yesterday, and even felt no desire to lift weights which is something I always enjoy. When my kids woke up Wednesday morning and asked who won, I had to say Donald Trump did. My son started crying and my daughter said “are you kidding me? Mom, how does a man who clearly says mean things about brown people and Muslims going to be in charge of the US? I don’t understand, you always tell me that good beats evil, how does someone who acts like a bully win?” I told her I don’t know, but God is in control and your dad and I love you. That was really all I could muster up to say. I didn’t want her or my son to know how sad, disheartened, and low I felt too about the election results.
During the drive into school, I recounted in my mind all of the numerous racist, bigoted, sexist incidents I’ve experienced in my lifetime. The first one I remember happened when I was only a six-year-old. As pulled into the school parking lot, I delayed getting out of my car. I had to wipe the tears starting to wail up in my eyes as I remembered all of these hurtful things:
- “Black people usually don’t test into the gifted program, so I’m surprised you did.”
- “You’re an Oreo, you know, your black on the outside, but really white on the inside.”
- “You’re a different kind of black person, you know articulate and smart.”
- “That’s surprising you got into Wake Forest academically, I figured you got an athletic scholarship”
- “You’re really smart for a black girl. It’s very rare.”
- “How do you know all of this technology stuff as a woman?”
- “What are you mixed with, I know you can’t be just black?”
- “You think you’re such a good player, don’t you N—–r”
These were just a few of the many incidents I’ve experienced that I recounted in my head. I couldn’t hold back the emotion and wept in my car for several minutes before walking into school. All of those hateful experiences I and countless other marginalized people experience(d) at the hands of white people, was somehow being rewarded. I could not believe that other adults, drank in small sips or big gulps, the Kool-Aid Trump served. Trump’s campaign centered on hateful rhetoric and no real definitive plan or answer on how exactly things would be made “great again” in the US. He belittled, disparaged, scoffed at, and disrespected pretty much any and everyone. How did we get to the point that Americans thought this behavior by anyone, let alone the potential leader of the United States was acceptable and okay?
I finally composed myself enough to walk to my office. The remainder of Wednesday and the rest of this past week, I felt my larynx had been ripped from my throat. I felt and remembered the scene in the original movie Roots, when Kunta Kinte’s spirit was finally broken enough from mistreatment and the beatings to assimilate and take his slave name, Toby. America’s decision to elect a mediocre, unqualified and hate-spewing white man to its highest office deflated me. I felt no matter what I did, accomplished, shared, apparently a lot of people still don’t believe my life or the lives of other marginalized people really matters. No matter what I do, a majority of people will still see me as a n—-r, and I can’t fix that.
I am very uneasy of the direction that our country will go, but will remain prayerful. I’m grateful for my friends who have given me space during this time of grief, but have also reached out and provided comforting words, hugs, and encouragement. They believe my life has value and that I cannot quit fighting. Although the jolt I received election night was debilitating, I now realize I cannot stay down. I must continue to fight not only for myself but for my two children, as well as all marginalized students’ lives. I must follow the lead of those in Educolor who have brilliantly done this work and resiliently and wisely used curve balls thrown at them as a reason to grab a bigger bat so they can knock the next pitch out of the park.
I also must continue to fight in the bubble of education and edtech against those who throughout this election have remained silent or complicit to the hate that has infiltrated our schools. The silence and complicit behavior in schools have produced graduates who voted for a man who ran on a platform of hate and disrespect. This silence and hate will not be fixed by safety pins but instead by actual action and organized activism by the adults in our buildings. We need educators who care about educating all students as well as a desire to break down inequities within the educational system through positive deviance. Educators must be reminded to keep their privilege in check in order to reverse things in our buildings. All of these things, I’m capable, have been, and will continue to try to do. Although I’m having to ease myself back into this fight after a big sucker punch that has left me woozy, I’m putting gloves back on and will be coming out of my corner when the bell rings.