I Will Respect No Less Than What Deserves Respect

I'm not marching today. I'm sitting in a living room, watching a tiny three-month old boy suck on his fingers and kick his feet — because I am a nanny — this is my job. But I'm not disconnected.

I woke up this morning and I thought, I want to wear all black and stay away from social media. But then words started pairing themselves together, weaving into phrases and sentences, and I started to imagine my children one day coming home from school, telling me what they learned about the 2016 election and the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, and asking me if I was marching, what I was doing, what I was saying. And I realized that the person that I want to be for them, and for myself, is the person who chooses to put her words out there, whether it really makes a difference to anyone or not, because at least it's an option on the table that way. At least it's not the deadly passivity of silence.

I do not stand with Donald Trump today.

Donald Trump, and all of those who have stood with him on his platform, have wronged Black men, women, children, and families, Latino men, women, children and families, people of color, the working and lower classes, and all those who are vulnerable and often-forgotten generally. I'm not going to go through the laundry list of ways he has proven to me that he does not stand for these Americans and myself. I will only highlight that beyond himself — he has chosen incredibly wealthy, highly ill-prepared individuals to take significant roles in our political system that — let me say it again — they are not equipped to manage the power of. So my mourning is not solely about one man. It is multiplied. 

"That seems dramatic. Why would highly ill-equipped people take such roles?"

Let me tell you, I'm not at all surprised. It is foolish to think that a person accustomed to privilege and in love with prestige and power would turn down a position they're unfit for when it is attached to more prestige and power. And if you're still skeptical, just watch Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos being questioned at her confirmation hearing.

I am dismayed, but I am not surprised. And I am not here for it.

"What about the every day people? The people who didn't agree with all of Trump's platform, but chose it as the lesser of two evils? Or felt the ends would justify the means? Are you here for them?"

I will review their applications on a case by case basis. 

"Donald Trump is just a person, like all of us. He's made mistakes, but he's a good businessman. You should respect that and just try to be positive instead of vilifying him."

Donald Trump is a person like me and you and all of us. He deserves life like all of us, and he deserves opportunities to prove himself, like all of us. I'm not denying his humanity, or the humanity of any individual who supports him. Far from it, when I am critical of Donald Trump and his supporters, I am holding them to the standards of humanity! And often not even the highest ones! As a human, treat other humans with respect. As a human in the highest office of our country, be a representative for all of the people of this country, listen to them and meet them where they are. It is certainly not a president's job to make everyone happy. But it is a president's job to grant everyone basic respect and the chance to be heard and seen — to see all of the citizens of his country as worthy of life and proper standards of living, too.

President Barack Obama has modeled that quality repeatedly throughout his 8 years, even in the midst of what I feel is his greatest challenge — turning over his office to Donald Trump — he has been respectful in every inch of his criticism and been graceful in every moment of his transition. I have so much honor and respect and support for President Obama, First Lady Michelle, and their family. I am so saddened to see them leave, particularly in the wake of the incoming wave.

"Well Donald Trump is still going to be president. You have to accept and respect that."

Donald Trump will become the president of the United States today. And I think that the least I can do as a citizen of this country is to be adamant and unwavering about what kind of behavior and action I will deem acceptable to see from him. I believe it is my role not to honor that which does not deserve honor, not to respect that which does not deserve respect, and not to support that which does not deserve my support. If he should ever act in such a way that warrants my honor, respect, or support, he will certainly receive it. Do I doubt this will happen? Yes. Why? He has provided me with no evidence that his ignorant, self-important, self-seeking ways are changing.

So what now? For my part, I'm not hopeless. I'm not giving up. I will be working as hard as I can to find ways I can exercise the power of my voice to prevent the potential destruction of American institutions I value, that are often not valued by those in places of power and privilege. If we all do the same, we'll make it through these next four years, close this sad, embarrassing chapter of our history, and move on to something inevitably better.