What President-elect Donald J. Trump can teach us
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President-Elect Donald J. Trump could teach us an important lesson.  Remember the swelling optimism that emanated from those campaigning for then Sen. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOfficial: Trump 'looking at' future of US sanctions on Russia Lawmakers reintroduce measure to lift Cuba travel restrictions Canada proposes methane pollution standards for oil and gas drilling MORE. His supporters were “fired up and read to go,” and the nation’s pride swelled as we watched when he was elected the first black President of the United States of America. 

Please, hold on to the joy of that moment and know that anything is possible. Progress rarely comes without pain.

Apartheid bore Nelson Mandela, a man transformed from prisoner to president, labeled a terrorist before he was imprisoned on Robben Island. He then rose to president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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While many celebrate Mr. Trump’s victory, the stark reality of the nation’s divisiveness can be used to strengthen us. The disappointment of the marginalized can become motivation. It can become fuel to strengthen a generation more powerful than we can imagine. President Obama taught us that a black man, born of an African father, with the middle name Hussein, can become President. Benazir Bhutto was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to lead a Muslim majority nation. These leaders exemplify possibilities. They are reminders of the audacity of hope, and serve as proof that dreams are not for starry-eyed optimists but can, in fact, come true.

Mr. Trump now has the opportunity and the responsibility to build upon our nation’s many strengths and to become a consensus builder, not a divider.

We cannot be complacent when innocent children are gunned down by police dressed in riot gear, minorities are disproportionately imprisoned, dogs are unleashed on Native Americans in Standing Rock, and when the wealthiest are not held accountable when benefitting from families living in poverty.  We needed President Obama to remind us that dreams can be realized.  Perhaps we needed Mr. Trump to remind us that we're still asleep.

Today, walk by faith. Be crazy and revolutionary enough to believe more firmly in everything we can't see with our eyes but know with our hearts to be the truth, the light, the way. As Americans, we're all leaders raising a village of children at home and abroad.  It is time to stand up stronger, firmer, with more pride and to tell our children that they have the power to believe, that you can grow up to be anything you want to be in this world because we had a Nelson, a Barack, a Benazir. We hope that the next generation can look back and thank President Trump for teaching us something useful.

Rand is the founding attorney of RAND LAW, L.L.C., a Miami-based civil litigation firm. She has represented the families of Trayvon Martin family and of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Toney is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Kean University.


 

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