As parents, as citizens, and as the leaders and staff of ParentsTogether, we were saddened and angered by the Jan. 6th violent attempt to overturn the results of our democratic presidential election.
While many of us sat in on Zoom meetings and homeschooled our children, we watched in dismay as the lies President Trump spread about the 2020 election came home to roost at the US Capitol and a violent mob broke in and attempted to block the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.
Here, we share some of the language we are using to inspire our conversations with our children.
In a time in which “facts” are suspect, “both sides” are validated by those in power, and disinformation spreads rampantly on social media, we also need to speak clearly to our community and name what is happening.
A sitting president perpetuated lies about the outcome of a democratic election; for months, he encouraged his supporters to reject election results that were verified by recounts and reaffirmed by dozens of court decisions.
President Trump called on his supporters to come to DC and exhorted them to use violent means to maintain his power—including in a speech he gave Tuesday immediately before extremists stormed the Capitol.
And the muted response from police and the National Guard–especially compared to the violence that met peaceful protesters as they stood up for Black lives throughout 2020–was stark evidence of the racist double standards in law enforcement and the ways that police have often stood aside in the face of white extremist violence.
Even after this, eight Senators and 139 House members voted to set aside the lawfully cast votes of American citizens and interrupt the democratic transfer of power.
That the insurrection was ultimately stopped, and that the democratically-elected winner was certified as president in the early morning of Jan. 7th, is a relief. Our democratic institutions have saved us for now, and our elected leaders were able to fulfill their duties. We can look our children in the eye today and let them know that our democracy worked.
But we do not and cannot rest easy—this is not the country we want to leave to our children. No matter your party, no matter your political beliefs, no matter your ethnicity or where you live, this week’s insurrection is an assault on all of us. President Trump, his advisors, and other elected officials who perpetuated falsehoods about the election for their own gain—and who have for years shielded and encouraged far-right violent extremism—need to be held accountable.
And all of us—white, Black and Brown, Democrat, Independent and Republican—must redouble our efforts to be engaged and participate in our democracy. We owe it to all those who came before us—especially those who fought so hard for the freedoms we have today—as much as we owe it to our children and their futures.