'How Do I Explain This To My Children?'

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
Image via CNN screengrab

CNN anchor Van Jones puts words to the emotion many of us were feeling last night as election results rolled in

As parents, many of us have been using this presidential race to explain to our kids that bullying is not okay. Excluding people based on their race or religion is not okay. That “love trumps hate.” Last night, we were dealt a swift blow to our idealistic vision that our country was better than this: than voting in a candidate who’s been so outwardly xenophobic and misogynistic. Than championing the “bully.”

We have friends who went to bed scared. We have citizens who feel immediately disenfranchised. Most of all, as parents, we have kids who are looking to us to explain how this happened. What do we say? How do we explain that the majority of the country stands behind a man who is endorsed by the KKK? That a majority of the country stands behind a man who was caught on tape admitting to assault? How do we assure our kids that everything is going to be okay when we may not even believe that right now?

CNN anchor Van Jones articulated what many of us were feeling last night when we looked in on our sleeping children. “It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us,” Jones admitted. “You tell your kids don’t be a bully. You tell your kids don’t be a bigot, you tell your kids do your homework, and be prepared. And then you have this outcome and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of, ‘how do I explain this to my children.'”

He spoke of the real fear that exists for American citizens. “I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, ‘should I leave the country?’ I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight,” he said. Imagine being a Muslim American right now. Or a Mexican immigrant waiting on a greencard. Can we put ourselves in the shoes of people who no longer feel comfortable calling their home, home?

Last night was a deeply painful moment for so many of us, because we feel like we’ve failed. Were we so comfortable that we just didn’t really believe this could happen? I brought my three-year-old daughter to the polls yesterday, certain we were experiencing history.

“Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come and reassure people that he is going to the president of all the people who he insulted and offended and brushed aside,” Jones said. “When you say you want to take your country back, you’ve got a lot of people who feel that they aren’t represented well, either. But we don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.”

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