I am working on a project that has required me to comb back through old emails in search of my writing that I may not have saved anywhere else. I just found an essay and a letter I wrote a few days after the 2016 election. I, like so many people, was in shock and trying to process everything that had happened. After living through the last (almost) five years, it is haunting to read these words again. Sadly, the message and the lessons are still relevant.
The emails I found were my submission to the Op/Ed department of my city's newspaper. The essay below and the letter in Part 2, are being shared exactly how they were submitted. I have not changed a word.
Submitted on November 11, 2016
Ready to Say Something...
by Crystal Rose McGinnis
I have stayed pretty quiet this week. I have shared other’s words that I felt were powerful and I have watched/read the news to the point of obsession. I am trying to wrap my head around what is happening in this country right now. I am so conflicted in how to respond…how to lead…how to inspire. I am a teacher and I am searching for the fortitude to make this a teachable moment. I am angry, more than that I am pissed. I am heartbroken and feel the weight of an upcoming oppression; a weight I have yet to feel in my lifetime.
I voted for Hillary Clinton. Not because she was a woman and not because she was the lesser of two evils. I voted for her because she has worked her entire life for people, for children, for America. In my own opinion, she was highly qualified. That being said, I am not overwhelmed with emotion just because she lost. I am not bitter about the Republicans taking over the White House.
This is not just another election. This is not just about a win or a loss. This President Elect stands for everything that can destroy us. People are taking to the streets because we live in a country that allows us to speak out and to disagree and to protest. I am sad for those that feel this is an overreaction, that think we are being “dramatic”. It means that you do not see the danger of this man. He stood in front of the entire nation and admitted to using outdated laws to avoid paying taxes, and then went on to say how brilliant that makes him. This is a man who follows no one’s rules, but his own. I understand that the presidency is not one man, but does he? Logic would deduce that if he wanted to start a war, he could find a 200-year-old law that would allow him to do so without anyone else’s approval. This man will have our nuclear codes. Let that sink in.
But this is all stuff you have heard from the news and Facebook and everywhere else.
I keep coming back to the children of our country and my role as a teacher. I am fearful that children are learning that bullying and negativity are how you win in America; that being powerful means you can step all over people below you. As a multi-racial, middle-class woman in America, I am terrified that children will believe that your level of success is determined by your gender, race or socio-economic status…that being a white wealthy man entitles you to bigger dreams. Oppression is a dangerous mindset.
As I sit here on Veteran’s Day, I am struck by the strength it takes to fight. Our country was built on that strength and every great movement forward has required superhuman strength on the part of its activist leaders. I am fortunate to have parents that taught me to question and to stand up and to lead and to be heard. They gave me strength, armed me for battle. I realize that is what we need to teach right now.
We must teach our children these lessons; keep filling their toolboxes.
Teach them about these protests and the long, rich history of activism in this country.
Teach our children that their voice matters; that is okay to be loud, to be heard.
Teach them the power of words, to hurt and to heal.
Teach them to vote; make sure they know how hard their ancestors fought for that right.
Teach children kindness, aggressive kindness…in the face of all that is negative, being kind is the tougher road, but the most rewarding one.
Teach our children to be fighters because the road ahead is not going to be an easy one.
"When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men seek to perpetrate an unjust ‘status quo’, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.“ – Martin Luther King, Jr.