Thoughts After the Election –

I am currently teaching a graduate level Child Welfare Policy class. My students are a diverse and extremely intelligent and compassionate bunch – and in the spring they will gradate with a Masters in Social Work (MSW) or Masters in Public Policy (MPP). If we were going to run a census on my class, we would find they are Black, Latino/Latina, White, Native American, Asian, Armenian, Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, LGBTQ, Students with Disabilities and that is still an incomplete list.  Did I mention they are a diverse group?  And then there is me.  A straight, white, Episcopal raised, question everything, lawyer teaching a policy course.  

We meet twice a week and our focus is Child Welfare Policy.  These are students interning and working in the community with high risk populations and children in need.  In need of stability, of family, of love, of understanding.  Like me, my students feel.  All the feelings.  It takes a special person to want to go into this type of work.  It’s high stress, but not high pay.  Of course it’s rewarding when things go right.  It’s heartbreaking when things go wrong.

I’m not gonna lie, when I started the course, I was pretty sure it was going to be my roughest teaching experience yet.  I’m not teaching my area of expertise – experience, sure, but not what I feel most confident teaching.  And, I am a lawyer.  Teaching soon to be counselors and social workers.  Believe me, I get that dynamic after years in Children’s Court.  For the first few weeks I was pretty convinced I was failing them in every possible way.   I contemplated quitting.  But I am not a quitter, and I knew that I was chosen to teach this class for a reason, even though I wasn’t sure what it was.  Now, I’m pretty sure I was put in this class, with these students, because I needed to learn a few things too.  If I am totally honest, I think they have taught me far more than I have taught them.

We met the day of the election, November 8, and there was definitely a different vibe in the room.  This election cycle was a circus, and I don’t think anyone can deny that.  And there was plenty of criticism to go around both sides.  We all recognized that.  We left class knowing that when we met again on November 10, the world would be a different place, no matter who won.

On November 10, the air was thick with feelings I still can’t quite describe.  And, so, I decided to do the only thing I really know how to do when things are stressful or scary or causing anxiety or uncertain – I talk.  About feelings.  And where we are.  What we can do.  Where we go from here.  I sort of went into Survivor After Suicide Loss co- facilitator support group mode.  I told my students I knew a lot of them were upset.  Scared.  Not knowing what it all meant.  So I asked them to write down what they did think, feel, wonder about the results we were facing.  And we spent an hour talking about them.

Frankly, since I am teaching a policy course, I couldn’t think of a better use of our time than to discuss how policy COULD change over the next four years, for better or for worse, and how we feel about all of it.

There has been a lot of “get over it” lobbed across the aisles this week.  And I guess in sharing this, what I want to make clear is this is not about not accepting a loss.  It’s not about arguing the validity or non validity of the election or results.  It’s about people having legitimate reactions to how this new administration could impact their lives and the lives of their children and their families.

So, if you have come this far, I ask that you continue to read knowing these are people I share space with every single week.  These are real people, with real thoughts and fears and feelings about everything that is happening right now, in this country.  And it’s not about red or blue.  It’s about respecting each other and knowing that even when we have a difference of opinion, we can still treat each other with respect and kindness.

This isn’t posted to argue or to debate, but to simply try to put yourself in another’s shoes.  To understand.  I am thankful to my students for allowing me to share this here.

Thoughts on the Election – November 10, 2016

 

  • I’m so scared for LGBTQ people – especially children

 

  • I am most concerned with the uncertainty we face. The words that were spoken during this campaign can’t be unsaid and I worry that radical policies will come out of this administration. And, even if they don’t, we are still broken.

 

  • I’m really worried about this Presidency traumatizing people.

 

  • Should I bother having children? Everything is shit.  Why bring in a new life?

 

  • I am afraid for my safety as a woman of color. Also, I am afraid for all marginalized communities (LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims, etc).

 

  • Everyone will have different reactions to the election result – Quiet, Angry, Sad  and I’m not really sure how I feel. Kind of numb.  Haven’t reacted yet.  I don’t know

 

  • I feel like I truly don’t know anyone anymore. I am afraid to interact with my peers, because it hangs in the air that we may have very different core beliefs and opinions.

 

  • I fear people may make assumptions about me and think I support Trump and hold me as an enemy because I am a white woman.

 

  • I am anxious about having to live in constant fear to see how it all plays out each day over the next four years and beyond.

 

  • I am lost because my church has promoted a view different than I hold.

 

  • I am very angry because those I held as friends are indifferent and I don’t know how to not hold that against them.

 

  • My mom voted for Trump and I really resent that.

 

  • I am as concerned, if not more concerned that conservatives control the House, Senate and Presidency, as I am that more than 50 million people voted for someone who has said such hurtful things.

 

  • Fearing for the mental well being of my cohort and our ability to work towards change while living in fear.

 

  • I worry about deportation of family members

 

  • What political power does he have as an individual to make changes?

 

  • He has no experience – what does this mean when it comes to such BIG decisions?

 

  • Hatred, discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, etc. How much worse can it get?

 

  • Where does this election result leave us as social workers?

 

  • White privilege has proved to be paramount to misogyny

 

  • Concern that the most vulnerable groups will be negatively affected through erosion of the social safety net.

 

  • Having to re-evaluate the company I keep now.

 

  • Fear of increased racism due to Donald Trump normalizing it and the openness of hate groups supporting him.

 

  • I’m thinking about my undocumented relatives and friends. I can see/feel what they are going through, but I can’t do anything.

 

  • I am afraid for my family and many others that can be torn apart.

 

  • I can’t believe there is so much hate in this country. I don’t understand how people can support someone like Trump.

 

  • I am afraid for my family and my community.

 

  • I am afraid my family will be torn apart.

 

  • Do we sever relationships with those who voted for Trump? Am I supposed to believe they endorse his beliefs? Am I supposed to believe they are showing their true colors/beliefs by voting for him?

 

  • I’m scared to be in an interracial relationship for BOTH of our safety.

 

  • I fear this country will not be stable for the upcoming years (eg, riots, safety, living in constant fear).

 

  • Fear for undocumented immigrants who now live with a great sense of uncertainty/instability in their future.

 

  • Fear. Disbelief. I feel like I have been sheltered by living in CA and feeling the full force of hatred, racism, sexism and more now.

 

  • Fear of Affordable Healthcare being taken away from family and the lower socio economic status communities

 

  • I’m scared for many things with Trump being President. As a woman, I fear that rape culture will continue and that Planned Parenthood will lose funding and women will lose their rights to reproductive health, and all the repercussions that come with that.

 

  • Scared that we have lost all ability to see each other as people – as friends and family and colleagues who might have a difference in opinion, but that doesn’t make either of us inherently bad.

 

  • I just don’t understand how people don’t understand why I am upset and why I am not allowed to be upset. This isn’t about “my” candidate not winning, it’s about what this all says about humanity.

 

  • Scared for the environment – what this means for our protected lands and water and air. Even if you don’t believe in big government, it seems like having clean air and water and regulations and policies to ensure that would be welcome.

 

  • As a mixed immigration status family, I fear for my undocumented parents, my sister and brother who have DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) , aunts and uncles who are undocumented. I fear that my family will be separated by a border.

 

14 thoughts on “Thoughts After the Election –

  1. This is so powerful and I also have these fears, not that I am in any one specific group, but I do not want any of these situations to happen in this country. My only encouragement to them would be that I feel there are enough people with strong values of equal rights that will work hard to keep our country safe for all. I pray the goodness in mankind will prevail.

    • I wrote an extremely lengthy but very important reply to all of these students comments. I wish I had the fortitude to rewrite it.

      Suffice it to say. The bottom line is: the glass is half full. You can either knock it over and spill the rest, or contribute to it, thereby filling it to overflowing. In order for that to happen, we, as a society of individuals with SO MUCH IN COMMON. Yes, so much in common – not different – need to put the past behind us (that is why it is called “the past”), and maintain (or for some of you develop) a positive attitude so we can be part of the solution – developing our nation to be free, prosperous, and respected, once again – (a great many of you have never known the freedom that your parents or grandparents have enjoyed. If you had, you would be on board with the direction this country is headed and have hope, not continue to be, whether we want to believe it or not) – and not a hindrance to forward motion.

      P.S…
      You need not worry if you think Hillary and Obama are going away. They aren’t. Their agenda for our country is to destroy it, and they have started it with all of you – in our schools, colleges and universities. Gaining control of the children away from their parents began years ago but has gained steam and is growing out-of-control. They are trying to create a civil war. Look around you. Obama, Hillary, all the Clinton’s, they do not care at all about you. The things they tell you and teach you, are what they want you to believe because they need you to carry out their agenda. You are expendable to them. They do not value you as a person or a life.

      This is all true. I am sorry, but it is. There is so much more I could confirm, and direct you to, to the original sources, so you could read it firsthand. It’s a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, nearly all of you wouldn’t research that far back. That is why you believe what you do.

      • PJ -People like you, those lacking in empathy for those who don’t look or live their lives like you, are what terrify me. Your comment read like a modern day Mein Kampf or some type of Third Reich propaganda. Sadly, nothing you said is true and your condescending inference that these grad students don’t know “history” shows how ignorant YOU truly are.

      • Well, you seem to think you know me. Hmmmm. Though you refuse to believe it, everything I said IS true, and very easily researched (to the ORIGINAL source, otherwise it is just what you tell yourself, or want to believe) so it may be confirmed. Apparently, they don’t know true history (through no fault.of their own.- why shouldn’t they be able to believe their teachers?) they just believe whatever they’re taught – having faith that what they are being taught is true – unfortunately, that is a mistake. I could copy links or cite an overabundance of the U.S. real history before they rewrote our history books, neglect to teach correct history and continue to instruct opinions as fact, but it would be a waste of my time because, what you believe is your business. but when complaining sometimes turns ugly (as in your case with such hate, and attacks on my character – which you know nothing of), then it’s wrong – whether I care or not (I don’t, by the way. What you think of me, regardless how off-base you are, doesn’t bother me in the least – so it was pretty much, useless.).

        You are welcome to speak as ugly as you like, maybe that’s how you roll. I don’t. I respect other’s opinions – even your’s – but suggest their may be other options available, for what I believe are very good reasons. Whether anyone believes as I do is their choice and I respect that – many people don’t take the time to do the research themselves – it’s a lot of work! I do double-check info though because, I came to the conclusion during high school that, just because you are taught something, doesn’t mean it’s true.

        I’m not going to take up any more of your, or my, valuable time. I’m sure you have better, and more productive things to do – I know I do!

        I gave some sound advice, and that’s good. So, off I go … you may have the last word. 😊 I won’t be reading it, or responding. I’m going to go have myself a wonderful Christmas! Tata (!), I wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS as well! 😊🎁🎄🎂😊

    • Karen, yes!

      I totally agree. I just want this country to be free, equal, loving, and kind, regardless of what group of individuals are in charge.

      I just want everyone to say: “Well, it may or may not be how I would have wanted it, but what can I do, personally, to help this country be the free, equal, loving, and kind place I want to live in?” Then do it. And be happy doing it.

      All emotions are choices. We can choose positive emotions and positive choices. Have a Merry Christmas, Karen…and thank you. 🎄

  2. Thank you for sharing the voices of your students. You have painted such an important picture of why me must use empathy now more than ever. No one should be told to get over it. Fear a for our vulnerable friends, family and loved ones is the common theme running through these thoughts. We must be afraid and never lose our vigilance.

  3. From one straight, white, lawyer (who happens to be male and disabled (SPMS)) to another, job well done. I love this post. I was reading an article on The Mighty (an amazing article by the way) and found my way here. I have never been so involved-physically, spiritually, emotionally- with an election as I have been with this one, and my first recollected president is Gerald R. Ford. I did not vote for Trump and feel /think many of the thoughts and feelings of the comments. However, I am happy and scared at the results of the election. 70% happy and 30%scared. I could probably write many words regarding my thoughts, feelings and wonders about this election but alas, I feel enough said, for now. Thanks for posting.

    JE

  4. Hi Johan – Thanks so much for taking the time to head over here and look around. I am also happy the piece resonated with you. I truly appreciate the courage of my students to give me the permission to post their thoughts here – in a forum where potentially so many might see them. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  5. This was so perfectly helpful. So many of my feelings articulated by your very bright, honest students. So true to the bone. So. AOL on the head on so many fears I could not seem to gather into words. Thank you.

  6. I wrote an extremely lengthy but very important reply to all of these students comments. I wish I had the fortitude to rewrite it.

    Suffice it to say. The bottom line is: the glass is half full. You can either knock it over and spill the rest, or contribute to it, thereby filling it to overflowing. In order for that to happen, we, as a society of individuals with SO MUCH IN COMMON. Yes, so much in common – not different – need to put the past behind us (that is why it is called “the past”), and maintain (or for some of you develop) a positive attitude so we can be part of the solution – developing our nation to be free, prosperous, and respected, once again – (a great many of you have never known the freedom that your parents or grandparents have enjoyed. If you had, you would be on board with the direction this country is headed and have hope, not continue to be, whether we want to believe it or not) – and not a hindrance to forward motion.

    P.S…
    You need not worry if you think Hillary and Obama are going away. They aren’t. Their agenda for our country is to destroy it, and they have started it with all of you – in our schools, colleges and universities. Gaining control of the children away from their parents began years ago but has gained steam and is growing out-of-control. They are trying to create a civil war. Look around you. Obama, Hillary, all the Clinton’s, they do not care at all about you. The things they tell you and teach you, are what they want you to believe because they need you to carry out their agenda. You are expendable to them. They do not value you as a person or a life.

    This is all true. I am sorry, but it is. There is so much more I could confirm, and direct you to, to the original sources, so you could read it firsthand. It’s a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, nearly all of you wouldn’t research that far back. That is why you believe what you do.

  7. Thank you for your thoughts on obama/Hillary. You are absolutely on point. I find it absolutely sickening that we have such treacherous individuals in our society. Wish more people would recognize them for what they are.

  8. I see you have a class full of people who all think alike. They may be diverse in their looks or heritage, but I did not see a single response like those I heard from many of my Texas friends, which was a sigh of relief and a ray of hope. Yes I had some who sounded like your classmates, yet none could actually articulate where they got these ideas about Trump as they didn’t actually come from him. They came from a media portrayal of him which was intended to bury him.
    Your students or smothered by the California group think that caused nearly 4 million more Californians to vote Democrat based on complete and utter misrepresentations. The “fears” these students expressed are contrived, motivated by strawman and red herring arguments created solely to get the Democrat candidate elected. While they failed to get her elected, they did not fail in priming and shaping young impressionable minds with the false fears that “Republicans” are bigoted, racist, mysonigistic, homophobic, uneducated, inbred, deplorable facists who lack any compassion for their fellow man and will use government agencies to bury those who disagree with them. Unfortunately, this has been the tactics of radical leftists who have taken over the Democratic party, not Mr Trump nor those in charge of the Republican party at this time.
    Democratic candidate Jim Webb said as much when he dropped from the race; “The party has moved way far to the left. And that’s not my Democratic Party.”

    P.S. I thought your comments on Robbin Williams (which led me to your page) was touching. Mental illness and depression are “the mother of all bitches”. But dishonesty such as that spewed from media sources we are supposed to trust to tell us the truth doesn’t help.

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