Lucy Stone’s suffrage wagon

This morning I’m busy reminding myself that I’m an optimist. An anxious, cautious one, but an optimist all the same. I went to bed before the result were in, having avoided social media all evening, and then woke with nonspecific anxiety (mine are usually very specific). I guess I knew he’d won. Last night I’d thought it would be close, but that the US would reject, if only by a narrow margin, a narcissist demagogue whose only real platform was hatred.

My 17-year-old daughter came to me while I was reading through the news and reaction early this morning and still sorting through my own shock. For those of us with children, our most important job today will be to guide. Start by reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, for instance. Right now. A choked up Anthony Van Jones wondered what he’d tell his children. “You tell your kids don’t be a bully, you tell your kids don’t be a bigot… and then you have this outcome…This was a whitelash against a changing country. It was a whitelash against a black president in part. And that’s where the pain comes.”

It’s painful but necessary to recognize that bigotry and racism are alive and well, not only in North America but worldwide. It’s horrifying but instructive to watch the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis and the misogynists gloat and claim victory. It’s also the clearest of signs that the glass ceiling is still fucking hard to break. The job isn’t finished. We aren’t done. It isn’t over.

Last month I had the chance to see Lucy Stone’s suffrage wagon at the American History Museum in Washington, DC. If was a tangible reminder of how far we’ve come (it’s just over one hundred years old), it can also be a weapon against despair. Look at it. That humble recommissioned milk wagon helped change the face of North American politics.

The US came within spitting distance of electing the first female president—and they did, by popular vote. Maybe this time the electoral college will do something unexpected in December. Or maybe the US wasn’t ready for a woman to lead them—not yet.

This is not the time to concede defeat to the bigots and the racists and the anti-Semites and the misogynists. This is the time to get up again and again and again and keep working to create a world of tolerance and fairness and equality. It’s time to redouble our efforts. It’s time to guide and mobilize our kids to keep fighting, and to fight harder. The middle-aged white guys who turned out in droves won’t live forever.

I’m going to keep the words painted on Lucy Stone’s suffrage wagon close to mind and heart, and make sure my kids see them too.