Next week, two things will happen. On January 16, we will celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision of equality and activism. Then four days later, on January 20, we will see Donald J. Trump become the 45th President of the United States.
For many of us, this second event is a tragedy – a step backward to a time in America’s history when white hostility and violence directed at people of color was an everyday occurrence. In truth, those days aren’t in our past—certainly not when that hate is being stoked by the next President.
Trump ran the most racially divisive national campaign since George Wallace ran for president in 1968. Wallace’s campaign was so volatile that at one rally police were summoned to rescue Black protesters surrounded by Wallace supporters yelling “kill ‘em, kill ‘em, kill ‘em.”
The similarity to Trump’s rallies—at which Black women and men were bullied and brutalized, even one of his supporters kicked out—is telling and troubling.
The media has consistently characterized the call to “Make America Great Again” as a “populist” message for working class Americans. This characterization blatantly ignores the clear implication that what is keeping American from being great is that people of color are more numerous than ever and making significant gains in economic, cultural, and political power.
Embedded in Trump’s slogan is the idea that America’s multicultural, multiracial, and religiously diverse population has somehow destroyed our country. He implies that a Black family in the White House is proof that America has lost its way. And only a rich white man (who has never done anything except promote himself and cheat others) can save us all.
Trump used racism, religious intolerance, sexism and xenophobia to win the election—never caring about the millions of Americans his bigotry hurt along the way. During that time he elevated white nationalists, the Aryan Brotherhood, and the Klu Klux Klan to a national profile they have not had since the 1940s. Since his election, the consequences of his rhetoric have included a truly terrifying spike in violent acts of hate.
After the election, he told all those he had insulted and disrespected that he really wanted to be the President of all Americans and wanted us to “give him a chance.”
As a Black woman who sees Trump for what he is: a walking swarm of privileged ignorance who profits off the fear and hate of others and leaves devastation in his wake—I’m all out of chances.
I am willing to give him the same chance he gave to Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise when he used his wealth and white privilege to try, convict and lynch these young men in the court of public opinion long before they went to trial. He sat in his golden tower gathering more wealth while they spent their teen years in prison. And even when DNA and a confession by the real rapist exonerated them, he still didn’t have the guts or the integrity to say he was wrong.
I am willing to give him the same chance he gave President Barack Obama when he used his wealth and media savvy to push the racist “birther” conspiracy to undermine and humiliate the first Black President of the United States. And even when a birth certificate proved him wrong, he spent the next six years trying to de-legitimize this Presidency simply because he believed he could—and perhaps because the sight of a Black man in power made him mad.
I am willing to give him the same chance he gave Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a fallen American soldier, when he questioned their patriotism and tried to link them with terrorists. Only his white privilege could make him believe that “staying late at the office” is synonymous with the sacrifice of a family of a fallen hero.
In other words, I’ll be keeping my chances and saving my energy to act in defense of all those threatened by Trump, his policies, and the hate he inspires.
For the next four years, I am an undocumented immigrant, I am Muslim Americans, I am a person with a disability, I am an LGBTQ person, I am African Americans Hispanic American, Asian American, and Native American. I am those Americans who do not fit into Trump’s narrow view of who’s “really” American.
I stand in solidarity with all the people who will be harmed as Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their cronies in Congress Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, barrel ahead to implement their bigoted policies to “make America white again.”
We must #Resist