After the Election- The New “The Talk”

Election day hurt bad, it still hurts.  I was in two Oakland schools.  One in the West, and one in Fruitvale.  Little girls in hijabs lined up alongside voters in one school.  And in the other school, which is 60% English language learners it was picture day, beautiful site with little kids beaming in the best dresses, little ties on, and voters streaming in.

It’s what I love about Oakland.

We woke up to a new day.

The Jokes turned serious

Kids were joking coming up to the election.  I taught a cartoon class, and Trump was a popular joke, with students talking of moving or putting him in humorous situations.  Black girls joked about how they would be picking cotton by the end of the day if Trump wins.  The jokes defused the tension.

But it’s not funny now.

School started with tears and the need for hugs, and some quiet resignation, which was most worrying.

Parents and teachers are answering a new set of questions.

“how will I see my family if they build a wall?”

“are they going to take mommy?”

“are they going to close the mosque?”

“do we have to leave, where are we going to go?”

It’s heart wrenching if you have a heart.

The new “The Talk”

Black folks know “The Talk” when your parents sit you down and explain how racist things are and that it isn’t right but that you need to just act certain ways at certain times, especially with the cops.

Many teachers and parents have had to have the new “The Talk” with their classes or children, assuring kids that it’s OK, that they aren’t coming for you or your family.  And parents are trying to explain how this happened, to their children and what it means.  But we don’t have any good answers.  And we really can’t promise them anything for certain.

A certain innocence is lost here.  The hard realities of the American psyche and the continuing vitality of a Southern strategy, though it’s a northern one too.

And we want innocence in our children, the idea of tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and an egg-laying mammal that hides candy.  Innocence is comforting.

But those are fictions, like innocence or fairness, in a country born in the original sin of slavery.

If you needed help and called for these fictions, they would not come.  You would be alone, or there with real allies if you had them.  But Santa won’t help.

So now the veil is lifted, the question is what are we going to do, for those who can’t protect themselves.  This isn’t really a question about what they did.  It’s about what we do.

As it always has been.

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