I don’t want to write about this. I resent writing about this. The goal was to live my merry life in a box of words related to mental health issues and the struggle of being a single mom in the 21st Century. Now I have to devote my time to this shit and I am not happy about it. That being said, let me just get right to it.
I spent part of election night eating $3 tacos with a friend, paying half attention to a large television monitor displaying the election results. I knew Hillary Clinton was not about to be the next President of the United States. I wasn’t shocked by the results, I wasn’t devastated, I was not hysterical or in tears about it. I know America, so I took my ass to sleep and was completely unphased waking up to learn that our shiny new President-elect is dear old Donald. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. What I felt deep in my soul was not disappointment or fear…to be honest, at the time I felt nothing. In my mind, I resolved to not speak to anyone at work about my thoughts on the election results. I work in Arlington, VA with the liberal yuppies who love to vote Dem but also love to treat me and racial and social injustice as if they don’t exist. The word “excuse me” doesn’t exist, nor does the common courtesy or general acknowledgment of me as a person. The yuppies laugh at the poignant race jokes on South Park and the Daily Show but that’s where it begins and ends.
Walls Closing In
It’s difficult to be black right now (or a person of color, or a member of the LGBTQ community, etc.—but because I am black I will speak to the black experience). I woke up the day after election day and I took notice of the silent white people on my social media timelines as much as I did the loud and outraged. I am on high alert but I am also doubting myself—have I become more paranoid? The more I watch videos of police brutality and observe reactions that range from apathy to “Black people should stop breaking the law…”, and listen to my Republican co-workers laugh at Donald Trump’s antics I feel it stockpiling on top of the regular ass racism and micro aggressions I deal with on a daily basis. I am a black girl, so I’ve had to sit and patiently explain my hair to white people, and at least once a week I am smiling uncomfortably as someone references the county I live in as the hood. NOT because it is the hood, but because black people live there. I remember years ago hanging out with some white friends at a venue that is known to be pretty multi-cultural and at one point, after leaving, my friend turns to me and says, “Oh I’m glad we left, I thought we were going to get beat up.” WHY? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT BLACK PEOPLE DO? NEVERMIND THE POINTLESS VICTORY RIOTS AT WHITE UNIVERSITIES WHEN THEIR FOOTBALL TEAM WINS A GAME—BUT IT’S BLACK PEOPLE WHO GET INTO GROUPS AND DECIDE TO JUST RANDOMLY BEAT UP WHITE PEOPLE.?WHAT THE ENTIRE FUCK?
Those incidents tend to embed themselves in our memories. I am dealing with anger. Anger that I have to stuff down every.single.day so that I don’t explode this aggression that stems from years and years of dealing with white bullshit. No more apologies—it. is. bullshit to pretend you don’t see or are not aware of the DIFFERENCE living life as a person of color versus being white. It’s 2016—EVOLVE already! I have a friend that moved to the DMV area from Wyoming years ago. I remember explaining braids and weaves to her, why she couldn’t call my dread locs as worms and why it was just plain insulting for the American public to demand that Presidential hopeful Barack Obama display his long birth certificate. That was years ago. Recently, she has expressed interest in talking to me about the Black Lives Matter movement and has stated plainly that Trump is awful and she does not side with him. EVOLVE. If you have lived in a multi-cultural area all your life and are still in your thirties asking to touch people’s hair you are stupid and wrong and ignorant.
I don’t have time to be as patient as I have always been. I am becoming exasperated by ignorance and I refuse to enable it. Once you start spouting things like “Oh, but he was criminal,” in reference to the brutal murder of a black man by police I am done with you. Once you start spouting things like “All Lives Matter” I. AM. DONE. Because guess what? We know that your life matters! That’s why you are all over the television screen, in the history books and in religion. If you are white you are the shit—you are winning, and for just one second black people thought we could win, too. Now Trump is President. I don’t have time to explain to you your privilege, I am busy working on my mental health and controlling this anger. I am busy preparing for war. I don’t have time to be afraid!
It’s Not Fear, It’s Dread
Just as the term homophobia is the greatest misnomer of all time, so is the concept or the thought that black people are somehow fearful of Trump. I will speak for myself here when I say that it’s not fear, it’s dread and disappointment. I am disappointed in white people because as much as our culture is appropriated I was optimistic that it somehow came from a good place and would lead to acceptance. I feel duped! How stupid am I? I have been patiently explaining the plight of the black person, practicing empathy and ke keeing it up with white people who marched their asses to the polls to vote Trump then lied about it to my face. It’s one thing to keep quiet about who you vote for (it is your right as a citizen) but to lie means that you know it’s a betrayal. It feels like sleeping with the enemy. Anyone with half a brain can see that Trump is not about racism per se—he is definitely about himself. But in his quest to rise to power he has incited the hatred and anger lying dormant (or even openly) in the white supremacists and used that to fuel his campaign. You don’t have to be a political pundit to know that “Make America Great Again” is a slogan for white people. IT WAS NEVER GREAT FOR ANYONE NOT WHITE! (Hell, it wasn’t even that great for poor white people but whatever makes you feel good at the end of the day.) White people came here and started killing niggas and taking land off the bat, built an entire country on the concept and as soon as the country tries to progress out of it the ignorant and the hateful rise from the sewer and proclaim what they have truly been thinking all along. This means that the progression of black people was an illusion. We let white people into the gates of our culture and it was a Trojan horse this whole time.
Our movement of #BlackGirlMagic #BlackLivesMatter #Melanin– all those things have been interrupted by the truth. I am not afraid of Trump I am dreading the next four years and beyond. I have had a handle on my anger for quite some time now. I am a pro, I can handle a micro aggression or two, a racist troll on my social media timeline but I am not my ancestors! I don’t know if I can be harassed on the street by a racist spouting Trump’s tagline and be able hold my tongue or place my hands behind my back without swinging. I don’t know that I can go back to a time where black people addressed everyone as “sir” and “ma’am” and avoided eye contact lest they be accosted or beaten in the street like an animal. The only thing I fear is death because I realize my anger might lead to it by the hands of some idiot that would cry for Harambe the gorilla but justify a black man’s brutal murder all in the same week. Don’t come to me to teach you how to Dougie if you don’t care how l live my life every day. No one is so afraid of your skin that they are shooting first and asking names later. Until you sit down and try to understand that I have no patience for you and your lack of humanity.
Let the Unfollowers UNFOLLOW
…because I’m not sugar coating my art anymore. I have conquered divorce and heartbreak; I am working out single motherhood and overcoming body issues. I’m DOING THAT—it is child’s play to me now. There are larger things that are starting to occupy my thoughts and keep me awake in the late night hours. As a writer, I cannot connect with you about women’s issues, about self-confidence and depression if I am not alive to make the connection. I have no desire to be a political artist (I barely even like labeling myself as an artist) but Nina Simone is 100% correct. “An artist’s duty…is to reflect the times.”
I am grateful for the white tears shed after the election results. I absolutely believe we have allies now—people who understand injustice and inequality and genuinely want to make things better. Now stop crying and assume your position. Make the decision to be an ally in word and deed and DECIDE who you are going to be when violence erupts and you have the choice to watch a lynching in the making or prevent it from happening. Understand that there’s no time for semantics and playing the victim. If you are not a racist don’t waste time pontificating about how you have black friends and you don’t see color, just support and stand up. Let’s not be ignorant. Racism has been a volcano in this country for years—ignoring the tremors does not mean an eruption is not about to happen.