I am sure this will enter the annals of all the thinkpieces of all the people who realize Donald Trump is a monster. And, as some will say, he is maybe not so powerful alone, as a presidency is not a monarchy. But with a Republican House and Senate and possible conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, there are many things to be worried about.
There are many things to be worried about if you are poor, a woman, Black, Latinx, Asian, Muslim, an immigrant, a refugee, a LGBTQ+ person, or some combination of the above. There is nothing to be worried about if you are a straight white Christian upper-middle class male (or so one might think).
Many people do not have to deal with a peculiar brand of oppression in America. They are male, they are not brown, they do not have their identities and their right to life called into question. They do not understand the fury and the fear that my marginalized friends and I feel—it is not so bad, this is a post-racial society, you should stop complaining, they tell us. I’ve heard the word “overreaction” more than a few times this week. These are people who don’t have to worry about their livelihood or happiness being attacked.
Meanwhile, my Ecuadorian and Jamaican and Chilean friends worry that their families will be ripped apart, that their undocumented parents will be detained in deportation centers and sent back to their old countries. Some of my Muslim friends are starting to consider not wearing religious headdress anymore because they worry they’ll be attacked in the street. My fellow Black people feel as though we keep losing any grip on progress in a country that we built with our blood, sweat, and tears, one which still demonstrates to us on a daily basis that our lives don’t matter.
And yes, Donald Trump might prove to be a figurehead; the president at times will find his hands tied by a Congress that has the right to declare war and can overturn his vetoes. But the president is also a representative. He not only presents America to the world—internally, he represents the psyche of the people. And if we thought that it being 2016 meant that there were enough thinking, progressive people to outweigh the white supremacists in this country, we have realized we were gravely wrong. They are still there, and what is most terrifying is that we don’t know what it will take to convince people of the humanity of black and brown folks, people who have different gender expressions and religions than the American majority. If a man calling Mexicans rapists, mocking someone with disabilities, and being on trial for the statutory rape of a thirteen-year-old girl is not enough to convince you that something is vastly wrong, how can I convince you of my humanity? How can you, as a Donald Trump supporter, justify yourself without admitting you agree with him on some level? If you can justify these things to yourself, you are complicit; voting for him means you don’t care about other people’s lives, because you don’t have to.
To the white boy I interact with daily and who voted for Donald Trump because nothing about a Trump America will dismantle his privilege, what can I say?
Indeed, one might ask: what’s the point of writing this now? I, personally, like to believe in silver linings, and propose a few things so that I and my oppressed friends, depressed by an unchanging America, may survive these next four years.
To other oppressed people, I hope that we will be galvanized; if ever there were a time for revolution, it would be now. The people who voted for Donald Trump do not like the progress we have made so far—and, surprisingly, it was not only whites without a high school education but also college educated white males who decided to throw their bags in his bandwagon. We are pushing and dragging this country to treat us with decent respect, and as the racist and sexist and xenophobic pillars of America begin to dissolve, she has proved that she will hold on with all her might. She will wear her white hoods until the day we torch them.
To my white friends, allies or not—this is your time to prove that you are actually for liberation. It is not enough to hang your head in guilt; that has been the tactic for long enough, and it clearly doesn’t work. I demand that you fight. I demand you protest, write letters, organize, do something. And I know I have the right to make that demand, because I know the marginalized people in this country are owed more than anyone could possibly ever give us. Our transgender sisters and brothers do not deserve to be publicly humiliated and abused. Families do not deserve to be separated across arbitrary borders. We cannot sit and watch while Syrian ten-year-olds and eighty-year-olds and four-year-olds are murdered and left without homes. And I will not watch while another black man reaches into his pocket for his license and registration and is shot from close range multiple times in front of his baby daughter. If you want to do something, do something.
People who look like me have almost never been free. That fact has been solidified by this election, and I cannot accept it anymore.