By Alex Temblador
No mother wants their child to fear the future, but that’s exactly what happened with Donna* of Illinois and her seven-year-old biracial son Tyson.
Tyson came up to his mother earlier this year in March and asked her, “Who are you going to vote for, Hillary or the guy who wants segregation?”
He then told his mother Donna that he hated segregation and wished he was white. Tyson is half-black, of Jamaican descent, and half-white. He had been discussing the election with a classmate which prompted his question to his mother.
Soon after, Donna reached out to a friend that was working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She wanted to tell her what had happened, share how she was struggling as a parent with how to deal with her son’s fears, and ultimately, motivate her friend and her co-workers working on Hillary’s campaign to continue to fight for kids like Tyson.
Donna recounted to a friend in an email, “I told [Tyson] that good people wouldn’t let [segregation] happen again and we’d fight to make sure it didn’t. And, that he should never want to be something he’s not. He’s beautiful and wonderful being brown/black.”
Donna wasn’t necessarily prepared to have such a discussion with her son, but for the next two weeks, Tyson continued to bring up his fears every evening as he got ready for bed.
“He would ask about segregation, [talk about] wanting to be “white,” and had a genuine concern due to the things being said by Trump. I remember many evenings him lying in bed asking me an entire series of questions. I will never forget it,” Donna told The Next Family.
Donna never imagined that a simple encouraging email to her friend would bring about about a letter from Hillary Clinton, herself, but it did.
At the end of April, Tyson received a letter from Hillary Clinton promising to fight for diverse families like his.
Hillary Clinton begins by saying, “I heard you have been following the presidential election this year, and that you have, unfortunately, had to listen to some of the backwards and hateful language coming from some of my fellow candidates.”
She continued, “I know that their threats can be scary, and I know that sometimes you are afraid to be yourself — but I hope you will stay brave and try not to worry.”
“Let me do the worrying, and I’ll keep fighting as hard as I can for kids like you to have every opportunity to grow up in a country that respects and appreciates you.”
Hillary Clinton ends the letter by reminding Tyson that diversity is what makes America wonderful: “In America, we don’t all look the same, sound the same, worship the same, or love the same — but our differences are what makes us great.”
After reading the letter, Tyson had to take time to absorb it:
“Tyson read it. Paused for a minute, looked at me, and then went outside and played,” said Donna. She added, “He didn’t want to talk about it a lot at the time which was very interesting. But he was absorbing it all and that’s how he handles things at times. But then, when he was ready, he talked about it with his friends and certain family members.”
But the letter didn’t just help Tyson come to terms with his fears. Donna also told us, “I shared it with some friends who, in turn, shared it with their children who had concerns, to calm their fears. Yes, kids were and are scared. And I think this letter impacted them and calmed their fears. It did for Tyson.”
Tyson’s experience and fears are not just limited to him. We’ve seen parents share their children’s fears about this election on social media during this last year. These children are adopted children, children of immigrants, children whose families are Muslim or Jewish or Hispanic. These children are scared by the speeches made by candidate Donald Trump, and this in turn, worries many parents who try to assuage their children’s fears by having discussions that they were never prepared to have.
“I sometimes wonder if Tyson’s story, as well as the story of others, prompted Hillary Clinton’s campaign to create that powerful commercial. Kids are watching. And paying attention. And many are scared,” Donna said.
“[They’re] scared they will be discriminated against, scared their friends or family of friends will have to leave this country because they’re immigrants, scared certain members of their family won’t be able to live with them if Trump is elected, scared for friends who are of different faiths or family units, etc. ”
Here’s the campaign video that Donna referred to:
Thankfully, Tyson can be proud of his mother who is fighting for him and his fears:
“I voted for Hillary Clinton in the election because I choose to accept facts over fear, love over hate, and to be on the right side of history,” said Donna.
Don’t forget tomorrow, November 8th is Election Day. Get out and vote — your family, and all modern families, are counting on you.
*Last name left out to protect the family’s identity.