When my children woke up on November 4th, I didn’t know what to tell them. They came running into the kitchen, where I stood—had been standing—a cup of cold coffee in hands, staring blankly, numbly out the window. Eyes swollen. Exhausted. Hurting.
I had rehearsed the answer to their inevitable question a hundred times; “We don’t know yet, sweetie. We just have to be patient a little while longer.”
Yet when they asked me, I couldn’t muster the strength to say it. I forced a smile and just said, “I don’t know, honey.” I made their breakfast and trudged through the day, a shell of myself.
Like every other American (and many more across the world) I waited.
And then we heard.
Joseph Biden has won the presidency of the United States.
And suddenly, I know exactly what to tell my children.
I will tell them that history will talk about this election for as long as there are humans on this earth.
I will tell them that more people voted for the president-elect than have ever voted for a president before.
I will tell them that people voted passionately. We voted early. We voted by mail. We voted after standing in line. And we voted in record-breaking droves. Despite a pandemic, despite attempts to suppress the vote, we voted. And it mattered.
I will tell them that for the first time in U.S. history, a Black and South-Asian woman will be the Vice President of the United States.
I will tell them that decency won.
And I will tell them that the election of a president does not mean that the work is done—it’s only just begun. That we have so much work to do. That now is not a time for complacency. There are festering wounds of inequities in this country, and it will take all of our lifetimes and beyond to heal them.
I will tell my children that our responsibility is to hold our new president accountable. He will not be perfect, and we must use our freedom of speech to speak up when we need to.
I will tell them that our country was built on a foundation of slavery and that they must work every day to dismantle it. That racism was accepted, overlooked and even embraced by a significant amount of people in this country.
I will teach my children that that is not easily recovered from. That many people feel understandably terrified and exhausted. And that it is our responsibility to spend every day making our communities actively anti-racist.
I will tell them that we can never “agree to disagree” when human rights are on the line.
I will teach my children that before we can change a nation, we must change ourselves. However aware and unbiased we think we are… we aren’t. We must look at ourselves closely and harshly and work every day to better support the people that have been harmed for far too long.
I will teach my children that love is love is love is love. Period.
I will teach my child that science is real. I will teach them the environment is sacred.
We have a new president-elect. I will tell my children the news. I will tell them I love them.
And I will tell them, “let’s go.”