Reflections on the 2016 Election – Election Day
From the moment Trump started gaining traction with his hate speech, I knew we were in a shitload of trouble. The GOP has always been racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic and all that bullshit. Always. So has the Democratic party. So has America. This is America. Every single person who pushes back on it by existing, living out loud, mobilizing, informing is pushing back on the lie America calls normalcy. Our existence and refusal to be invisible shows everyone who’s never felt or considered themselves normal that there is no normal. There is only us and we all belong here. There is room for all of us here. And that is the fight that I fight.
The violence, the bigotry, the hate has always been there, especially in group think situations. It’s always been there and hidden because we had no way to push it out. No way to get eyes, ears, and minds on the myriad of injustices we face daily. Until the past few years. And the thing that scared me the most about all of it was the number of people who chose not to listen. These were people I grew up with. People I found myself related to. One I’d even married. When I married my significant other (S.O.), I gained a front row seat to white denial, intentional ignorance, callous indifference, and the pathological lies they tell themselves about it.
It was shocking for me.
It was in this relationship that I found the voice to speak about things I’d been conditioned never to speak about. My generation grew up after the Civil Rights Act was passed. I grew up hearing that we’d come a long way and to work hard, twice as hard to prove we deserved to be here. I was taught that I would be looked down upon, underestimated because I’m Black and to quietly prove I deserved all the rights and privileges white people took as their rote. I was taught never to trust white people because when the time came to choose, they would always choose other white people over me.
This is why I won’t force my S.O. to abandon his family. I don’t trust that he will choose me. Regardless of how many times he does choose me, and he has, multiple times, I still don’t trust him to do it. I hope he will and so far, he has. But I’m still scared and I continue to be wary. I’m also transparent with him about this because he needs to know how I feel and why I sometimes pull away when things get tense. That fear and hope…they make for a complicated relationship.
We know that there may come a time when sides must be chosen. And the thing is, it’s not a race issue, although race is at the core of it. It’s a human rights issue, and the fact that there is a large segment of the American population that believes they should be able to deny human rights to anyone they don’t like. Shit, they believe that they should ALWAYS have more human rights than people who are brown and Black. The GOP has always softly whispered this and encouraged oppression in their base. They did it in a way that they felt comfortable, and could deny as racism because they weren’t specifying People of Color (POCs); they were targeting social issues around locations, diseases, illnesses, educational systems…They were working to “fix” a pathology they created around race and using the systems that segmented people to hide the inherent racism of their rhetoric.
And it worked. How often did we hear about the inner cities during this election cycle? Or entitlements? Or “that dangerous element” that needs to be addressed? Whenever the issue of gun violence arose, it wasn’t to talk about white gun owners; it was to talk about Chicago and gangs and getting the guns out of the hands of those we suspected were criminals (they mean Black people). Stop and frisk is a code word for searching any Black person because they feel like it. All of this is code for Black people are dangerous and need to be treated as such at all times. And all of this is oppression.
And you see how white people will support stop and frisk but then say they aren’t racist. They will say they want to clean up neighborhoods, but won’t admit that what they mean is displace the Black populations and replace them with white ones. That when they want to privatize schools, that it’s to destroy the public school systems that they’ve diverted money out of for years until they began to collapse under the strain and then blame the Black families for their demise. There is a huge swath of the population that believes that supporting this doesn’t make them racist, when actually this is the definition of racism.
What’s funny is the number of republican women who didn’t think the party was sexist and their surprise at it now. This is how ensconced they are in the bullshit and the lies. A bunch of women supported GOP sexists until the sexism became so overtly violent, they couldn’t lie to themselves anymore. “Grab them by the pussy” has become the white woman’s “n***er.” And still a bunch of women support the GOP because…because…fuck if I know. I want to call them names but all the names I want to call them are ableist and I’m trying to do better so I won’t. But damn.
We got fucking white people supporting white supremacy and then saying they aren’t racist. What the fuck kind of cognitive disconnect do you have going on to believe that shit? That is how illogical so much of this country is and it’s terrifying.
The thing is, this election gave racists a leader. It gave them a banner to unite under. It gave them a feeling of legitimacy. It gave them hope that they could enact the oppressions that they’d been raised to believe were the natural order of things. And they plan to enforce that natural order, with violence if necessary.
This is where I’m supposed to say “not all Trump supporters” but fuck that. Silence is violence and all you silent mofos are complicit as hell. You are the problem and your denial means exactly nothing. Stop fucking lying about the role you’ve chosen to play. It’s embarrassing.
For all you former racism deniers – I’m glad you see it now. I’m glad you can now see the systems you’ve maintained and the actively fed through your insistence that racism was over. I hope you keep working within your communities to shine the light on racist practices and then start dismantling them. I hope you speak up when you see it, hear it. I hope you intervene. Because to start fixing what’s wrong, you need to intervene with your friends, families, co-workers, neighborhoods, local governments…everywhere. You need to step in and say, “No. We’re not doing this. Not anymore.”
Oppression happens in silence and violence. It’s in the background of everything we do in this country. You see it. Now fight it. Don’t leave this country broken. Fix your people because it’s dangerous for ALL of us.
I’ll leave you with this quote from my estranged mother-in-law on why she’s voting for the GOP candidate:
“I was raised white. This is the only thing I know to do.”
That is America. Home of the free and the slave.