I remember distinctly at the San Francisco Trans March this summer, some of the Radical Monarchs really wanted to take a picture with a woman who was holding a sign that said “Love Trumps Hate.” I asked the girls what the message on the sign meant to them? They shared what they were learning in school about democracy and the election process, they talked about how mean Donald Trump was, and how bad he would be for the country because he hates people who come from our communities. They agreed with her message and wanted to show their support. They believed love would win.
Now, that the votes are in, and the ballots have been counted, and they know — we all know — love did not trump hate.
We are a country whose roots are showing. The transphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, anti-immigrant, white-supremacy loving, and Islamophobic, underbelly of America has come out of the closet for all to see. Those who had hopes of living in an inclusive society, steeped in respect and inalienable human rights, mourn the ten steps back we have taken during this election cycle.
In the midst of the shock, grief, and “I told you so,” how do we as parents, teachers, and youth workers explain a Trump presidency to the children in our lives? How do we prepare future generations to conquer hate and cultivate justice for all people?
First, have a “Feelings Circle”: gather together with your loved ones who are feeling angry, unsafe, disappointed, confused, shocked; and reflect, draw, write, and express yourself. Process the Trump election together as blood family, chosen family. As a community, invite other like-minded people to your circle and show your children you aren’t the only ones who value equity. Assure them they will be safe and protected. Remind the young people in your lives that bullying, no matter who the bully or how powerful, is wrong.
Keep this presidency in perspective. Keep a tally of the good news, too, and make sure your kids know about the human rights victories that have been won locally. Tell them about our state’s hate-crime and marriage equality laws, and minimum-wage increases. No one wants to join a losing battle. Keep our youth hopeful so they want to participate in movement-building. Social justice does not have to be a Debbie-downer.
What ways can we strengthen and empower our girl-identified youth in this disrespectful political environment that tells women and girls at every turn they are unequal and unable to stand in their power? Teach them about their social justice herstory. Show them fierce leaders who look like them, who believe in them, who champion their inherent equality. Lift up the diverse narratives of young social justice activists who are taking direct action at their schools, demanding change and getting it. They are our models, our hope for a more inclusive future.
The East Bay is a beautiful social-justice incubator rife with youth workers, community organizations, and parent collectives. Support the work being done with your time and financial support. Harness your resilience. Stand with us in the legacy of love and justice our ancestors, elders and contemporaries are creating. Help us defend, protect, and grow thriving communities. If we as a nation have learned anything in this election, it should be this: Working within the system is not enough, we cannot vote hate away.
Marilyn Hollinquest and Anayvette Martinez are the founders of the Radical Monarchs, which create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities, and contribute radically to their communities.