We are better than This

I live in a small, possibly rural, county. We have two school districts. For complicated and silly reasons, my two young children attend both. I learned that in one district, one high school-aged Latina girl was harassed on the school bus with kids chanting "Trump!" and "Go back home!" implying her home is Mexico. I learned later in the day, by way of email from the superintendent of the OTHER school district (direct quote from his email):

Over the last two days I have received reports of several students being the target of harassing behavior as a result of the recent presidential election. Our school district does not endorse harassment, regardless of the motivation.

I saw also on social media, that across the country there are many documented incidents of harassment against women, muslims, latino/latina/latinx, LGBTQ, Jewish, and black Americans with explicit ties to the election outcome. And then near the end of the day, I saw that there have been a number of incidents of harassment across the country now against Asian-Americans. I am very unhappy about the harassment against all the groups. As an Asian-American myself (born and bred in California, living and working in rural(?) Utah), I was especially unsettled by the even more real possibility that my mixed race family may be harassed. Here. Where I live and work and play and shop and socialize.

Last night, because of these things, my wife and I decided we needed to have a little talk with our kids about what they may see or hear about at school. We told them to be aware, to tell teachers and principals, to be a friend to those who need them, to have thick skin, and that as their parents, we will keep them safe. We also told them that this isn't about whether someone voted one way or another in the election, and these behaviors do not represent all people who voted one way or another. I could barely keep my composure during this talk, and I even had to leave the room once because it was hard for me. I live in one of the purportedly safest places in the country (they boast about it online), and I just had to tell my children about some ugliness that IS happening here that gives them and me reason to feel unsafe.

I KNOW that I have friends and family and acquaintances in my 'real' life and on social media who voted for Trump. I know some of you lurk and don't post and occasionally click "like". I know when I see you next we'll hug and ask how things are going and catch up on things and comment on how big kids are getting and how hard it is to be an adult or parent or whatever. We probably won't talk about who voted for whom.  I know some of you voted for Trump. Look, I respect that everyone has the right to make the choices that they make. I believe for some it was a matter of dislike of Obama, or dislike of certain policies. For some it was deep distrust of Hillary Clinton. For some it was out of concern for some things that are happening right now demographically and who is in the country right now. For some it was because the economic recovery sure doesn't feel like a recovery. For some it was a matter of faith and spirituality and church. For some it's about the supreme court. And for some it might have even been a joke vote. Fine. The choice has been made.

I like to believe however, that for whatever reason that my friends, family, acquaintances, and so on voted for Trump, they do not want their vote to mean that they feel children should get harassed at school or that mean discriminatory notes should be left on cars or churches should be vandalized or that people should be shouted at and mocked or somehow made to feel less human. If I know you and am friends or acquaintances with you, I really do not think you voted for that. Some of you may also feel this does not have to do with your vote and just has to do with other things such as bad parenting or decaying social norms and possibly even some self-inflicted ploys to rile people up. Maybe you feel it's a few vocal ridiculous trolls causing a scene who are pathetic and not worth the time of day. Fine.

But this harassment? It is happening. It's now happening where I live. Where I sleep. Where I leave my kids for several hours a day while I work. It might be happening where you live. And I ask you - my friends and family who voted for the president-elect - to please do what you can to stop it. You aren't the ones harassing people, but you can help stop it. By modeling what it means to be respectful. By talking to your own kids about bullying and about thinking for themselves - even if you KNOW they are not the type who would every bully or do anything so mean. By talking to your friends and neighbors about what is happening and come up with ideas on how you (yes YOU) can do something more to keep things civil. By standing up and saying something when you see harassment and letting everyone around you know that even if you voted for Trump, you do not tolerate this awful behavior. Even if you have mistrust of some people and that is why you voted the way you did, we do not need to be ugly about it. Please don't pass the buck and say that it's bad parenting or a bad egg or just a bad state of affairs we are in. We are the state of affairs. Maybe you know you are not part of the problem, but regardless we ALL can be part of the more civil solution. Please.  We are better than this.