What the Children are Saying

By Angelina Ye (Harvard College Undergraduate)

This past Tuesday, people around the world stayed up until 2 am waiting to hear the results of a two worded question – who won? College students switched between tabs of their midterm review notes and the polling results, adults got ready to show up for work tired and sleep deprived, and for once, bars were showing live coverage of the election instead of baseball game reruns. And while the country was wavering on the brink of sanity, millions of children were peacefully asleep in bed. However, despite their early bed time, people forget that the results of this year’s election impacts those still learning to read and write, just as much. Just because they cannot understand foreign policies, just because they cannot vote, and just because they cannot tie their shoes doesn’t mean they do not understand what is going on. They do more than one would think, and boy, do they ask questions.

So what do you say to a five-year-old when he tugs on your pant leg and asks why an evil man is going to be president? What do you say when the sweet, shy girl who hides behind her glasses curses at Donald Trump? What do you say when the class of third graders you work with asks if Trump will become president? 

I said no. 

I said no, this country will not vote someone into power who is a bully. I said no, this country will not carry someone who belittles others. I said no – and I believed it as I did not think this country would support someone who is not only sexist, but racist, homophobic, and xenophobic. 

But now, I have lied. 

I have lied to the students I work with, I have lied to myself, and now, I wake up hoping the polls are lying to me. But they are not, and I am in shock. 

As a college student however, life moves on. Classes continue and the liberal institution that I have spent so much of my childhood striving for, shelters me from the deep hatred happening in the real world. And as children everywhere are now experiencing the pain and strife that this election has caused, it disturbs me to think that my childhood, in the arms of a loving town that showed a female minority nothing but kindness and compassion, cannot be experienced by all. So after this election, it is not myself I am worried about, but those younger than me. It is them who will be living a majority of their childhood – the time most essential to their development – under a rein of Trump, for the next four, perhaps eight years. But just how do you explain to a child that Ben isn’t coming back because he has been deported? How do you explain that Kelsey starves every day because her mom wasn’t able to get an abortion despite knowing she wouldn’t be able to provide for her? How do you explain to a child that he must live in fear of expressing his sexuality? 

How? 

I am not sure. 

Despite now legally being an adult, I myself feel like a child, abandoned. A country that I trusted in so deeply to hold strong the values of tolerance and altruism has been turned upside down and now I feel helpless, confused, and betrayed. 

Yet this is not the end, but the beginning. A calling that we as a society must rise to the occasion and stand up for what we believe in. 

And if not for yourself, do it for the kids.