What I want my white sons to know about this election
Many of us expected to see Hillary Clinton’s win as a new beginning for this country. We thought it would usher in an era when sexism was deemed unacceptable. When the idea of equality between the sexes was championed. By rejecting Trump, we would also reject what he represents: bigotry, racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia and hatred of the “other.”
That did not happen.
Hillary Clinton lost. Donald Trump won. But while this is not the beginning we wanted, it is another kind of beginning — the beginning of the end of heterosexual, white men’s power.
This country was formed and shaped by heterosexual, Christian white men. But over the last century, men have seen their absolute power challenged as women, people of color and LGBT people have fought for their place in society.
Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make American Great Again,” was a call to bring this country backward to the time when things were only great for those in power: white, Christian, heterosexual men. These men — these small, terrified men — have rallied behind the idea of taking back their country. They want to return to a time when the idea of political correctness didn’t exist. When men didn’t have to worry about offending people with their speech or actions. When sexism, racism and other discrimination was the prevailing sentiment.
My sons, I want you to understand that things can be great for you without being terrible for others. Your happiness does not depend on their misery. When minorities gain freedoms and rights, it does not take away the freedoms and rights of other people. When one boat rises it doesn’t mean other ships sink; it means all boats rise.
Our president-elect, like many men, feels entitled to women. But women are not objects. They are not made for men’s pleasure. Their worth is not dependent on their appearance. As Hillary Clinton has said, “women’s rights are human rights.” Women are people who are equal to men. Sexual assault is not acceptable. Just because the president brags about his behavior doesn’t make it presidential. You are not owed anything, especially not people.
You will be granted privileges in your life merely because of your whiteness, maleness and (presumably) heterosexuality. I want you to be aware of these privileges. In our society, men are trusted more than women. Whites are afforded more rights than people of color. Heterosexual people treated with more respect than their LGBT counterparts. Regardless of that, I want you to know that you are not superior to anyone else. Your skin color is not important. Your sexual orientation means nothing. They are merely aspects of who you are, not indicators of what you deserve.
I expect you to use your power, not to your own advantage, but to help people whose voices might not otherwise be heard. I want you to lift others up, not keep them down.
Trump’s win was not a referendum; although he won the Electoral College, Clinton won the popular vote. Things are changing. Although racism and sexism are built into the fabric of our society, it will not always remain that way. In the past eight years, we have seen the pendulum swing further to the left than ever before. A black man was elected twice to the presidency. Gay marriage was legalized across the country. In a few states, medical marijuana was legalized for the first time. And a countrywide health care system was put into action.
The pendulum has now swung radically to the right. It will swing back again, but it will take time. And it will take work.
You have the power to make this country and this planet anything you want. I hope you will make the right choices. That you will choose inclusion over exclusion, bravery over fear and equality over injustice.
This isn't the beginning we wanted, but it's the beginning of the end of the status quo. You are witnessing cowardice’s last stand.
Your scared but fighting mom