by To-Wen Tseng | Nov 11, 2016 | 2016, North America, To-Wen Tseng, USA
This August in our neighborhood playground, a child threatened my toddler son, saying “Trump will kick you out of here when he becomes President.” For the past two months I’ve been praying for the victory of Hillary Clinton, so that I can tell my child “hate never wins”. The polls gave me some hope. But on the night of November 8, as the election results rolled in, I saw a very different America than the polls had predicted.
I put my child to bed that night right before the Canadian immigration website crashed. I stayed up late, thinking about how I would explain this to him. A few hours later, he woke up full of questions. He asked me if she had won. I told him no.
“But I want Hillary to be my president!”
“I know, baby.” I held him tight. He is too young to understand the candidates’ policies; all he knows is that if Donald Trump is in the white house, the bullies in the playground get a good line to yell at him.
Once again, I assured him, “We are American, this is our home, no one is going to kick us out of here, not even Trump.”
I’ve been repeating this to him for the past two months. Apparently it’s not enough. He asked me if we’re moving to Asia to be with his grandparents. I told him no.
“But I don’t like Trump!”
“But you do like America, don’t you?”
He thought about it carefully and then nodded.
“That’s right, baby. As long as it doesn’t change, we’re here to stay.”
“But I’m upset.”
“That’s okay, baby. I’m upset, too. We all get upset sometimes. But we’ll be fine,” I told him.
“If anybody ever tells you that Trump will kick you out of the country, just say, ‘No, I am American, this is my home, no one can kick me out of here.’”
He practiced the sentence a couple of times and seemed to be comforted.
There is so much more that I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him it’s not the end of the world. I wanted to tell him that human beings are resilient. I wanted to tell him that we can do better than running away. I just don’t know how to make a 3-year-old understand all of these things.
In spite of all the frustrations at this moment, I still believe in America. Sure, the election had modeled the exact opposite of the values I believe in and hope to instill in my children: the xenophobia that came directly out of Trump’s campaign has harmed my family. But I see that most of my fellow American don’t believe in the racism and sexism either. Clinton won the popular vote. Which means the majority of American believe that women should be paid the same as men, they care about climate change, they don’t want the implementation of aggressive surveillance programs that target certain ethnic groups.
This is the moment not to sit down with frustration, but to stand up and fight against discrimination, bigotry and hate. And there is so much we can do. We can volunteer. We can donate. There is Showing Up For Racial Justice that combats racism, Planned Parenthood that gives women the opportunities for proper healthcare, ACLU that upholds the individual rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. Most of all, as parents, we can continue teaching our children the values we believe in: honesty, gender equality, love. The election changed none of that.
Just like President Obama said on election day, “The sun will rise in the morning.”
What was your reaction to the US Presidential election? Did you or will you talk to your kids about it?
This is an original post to World Mom Network by To-Wen Tseng. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang.
by To-Wen Tseng | Sep 2, 2016 | 2016, North America, The Americas, To-Wen Tseng, USA, World Motherhood
A while ago, when my toddler son was playing in our neighborhood playground, another child said to him, “Trump will kick you out of here when he becomes President.”
It happened during the afternoon of hot summer’s day. My three-year-old bumped into an older child—probably five or six years old—when going down a slide. As much as I was tempted to defend my own child, I had to admit that it was his fault. I thought that I needed to remind him to apologize.
As I was walking up I heard, “Trump will kick you out of here when he becomes President.”
I froze in spite of the high temperature. It took me several seconds to realize that it was the other child who had spoken these words.
I wanted to ask, “I beg your pardon?”
I wanted to ask, “Why would you say that?”
I wanted to ask, “Do you believe that anyone should be kicked out of here?”
But before I could say anything, my son looked up at me and said, “Mama, I want to go home.”
So we left. I looked back a couple of times, trying to find the child’s parents. I didn’t, and I did not know what I would have done if I had found them.
My son was silent all the way home. Anyone who didn’t know him that well would have simply thought that he was tired. I drove, waiting for him to ask questions, but he didn’t.
So I broke the silence and said, “You know, you should say ‘sorry’ when bumping into other people.”
“And, you know, this is our home. No one is going to kick us out of here.”
It was too hard to continue the conversation, so I stopped there. We went back to silence, and I hated myself for not being able to come up with anything better to say.
When it comes to unfriendly comments about immigrants and minority groups, many Asian American people, including me, often have an illusion of “safety”. Trump has accused Hispanic American of bringing crimes;he has called Muslims terrorists. But hey, we are Asian Americans. We are quiet and shy, we do our math and science, we hurt nobody, we don’t even attract attention. Anyway, Trump said that he “had a very good relationship with China” right before having that crying baby ejected at one of his rallies!
But what happened in the playground in that afternoon taught me a lesson: when a hate movement and white nationalism becomes the mainstream, everyone can be a victim. Even a three-year-old boy can be threatened in his neighborhood playground.
My son was quiet for the whole evening. At the dinner table his dad noticed and asked, “Are you okay, buddy?”
“I want to go to bed now.”
He insisted that I sleep with him. I laid on his toddler bed with him. Just when I thought he was falling asleep, he asked, “Mama, who’s Drump?”
“Trump? He is a businessman. He is running for President.”
“Will he become the President?”
I got up and showed him the book “Hard Choices” with Hillary Clinton’s portrait on the cover. I was hired to translate the book into Mandarin Chinese when it published in 2014. “This grandma is also running for president, and one of them will become President.”
“Will she let us stay here?”
“Oh baby! We are American, and we’ll stay here as long as we want, no matter who becomes the President.”
I was telling the truth. Both my husband and I came to the States as international students. He earned his PhD in computer engineering from NC State University and I earned my Master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University. We eventually naturalized through H1B working visas and EB2 green cards, which requires an advanced degree and exceptional ability. We’ve been calling America home and contributing to this country for more than a decade, and I honestly don’t think anyone can legally “kick” us out of here, not even Trump.
What worries me is that this kind of hate speech will hurt our family and our children, turning our country into a place that is no longer suitable for living in.
We’ve all heard Trump’s supporters shouting violent words and making crazy statements at the Presidential hopeful’s rallies, but it feels different when such words comes out of a young child’s mouth. I wonder if he really knew what he was talking about.
Either way, he certainly made it clear what Trump’s brand of hate is doing to this country. In spite of the frustration, I still hope for a hate free society to come. So vote wisely. It’s not about political correctness. It’s about being a decent human being.
Has your child been the target of discrimination at the hands of another child? How did you handle it?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by To-Wen Tseng of the United States. Photo credit: Mu-huan Chiang.