I didn’t sleep well a couple nights ago. Hell, I’d be surprised if I slept more than an hour or two. I went to bed before the election was called, all but certain of how it would end up. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb and rested it in its cradle as I laid myself down to rest. I pulled my sheets up to my neck and rolled over, shutting my eyes and hoping that my worst fears weren’t about to come true.
I tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable position, while my heartbeat pounded rapidly in my ears. Anxiety had taken hold and assured me that I would remain restless long into the night as I fixated on the results of one of the most important elections of my life, at the end of the most divisive campaign I’d ever seen.
I woke up to find that the world had ended. History had repeated itself. America had actually done the unthinkable, and elected a poor facsimile of Adolf Hitler to the highest office in the land. Donald J. Trump, having run on a campaign of zealous bigotry, hatred, blatant lies and fearmongering, had been elected the 45th President of the United States of America.
In that moment, the American Dream as I’ve come to know it had died, murdered at the hands of xenophobic hate that gripped half the nation in its iron claws. Now, it’s nothing more than the words suggest; a dream, the far-flung fantasy of a nation too obsessed with its own visage to recognize the cracks in its façade. Drunk on the idea of American Exceptionalism, America couldn’t tear itself away from the imagined, idealized version of itself in the bathroom mirror to realize the house had collapsed around it.
The candidate of Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and White supremacy will soon take the White House, and I shudder to think of what will become of the country when he does. Donald Trump’s campaign weaponized White Supremacy and the fear that it may eventually be undermined in succeeded on a grand scale in a way Barry Goldwater couldn’t in a time when we were led to believe that racist attitudes and bigotry were things of the past. It has been the grand lie of the past eight years, that we’re living in a “post-racial” society, as evidenced by our election of Barack Obama. Of course, black people, brown people and Muslim folks knew full well that the idea of a “post-racial” America was a load of nonsense, but the idea persisted anyway, as if beating us over the head with the words would cause us to miss what was right in front of our faces.
Sorry, we’re a little less gullible than that.
Unfortunately, as minorities, we don’t have the power to control the outcome of an election. Influence, yes, but not control. We simply don’t have the numbers. That meant we would need our white allies to step up and side with us against bigotry, and we were let down. Whites, both male and – mind-bogglingly – female, sided overwhelmingly with Trump. The line in the sand had been drawn and showed that, in large numbers, white people were more than willing to look past Trump’s bigotry in favor of the mere possibility of preserving their self-interests. When you’re complicit in supporting someone despite how bigoted they may be, you’re essentially telling minorities that you just don’t care enough about them.
In a time in which racial and tensions are perhaps higher than ever, the majority of White America closed ranks and collectively shook its head, “No”.
This election was a referendum against everything America has been becoming over the past few decades. This election is, without a doubt, White America’s upturned middle finger to minorities nationwide. This is their way of collectively saying either “We’re willing to sacrifice you on the altar of the slim possibility that our lives might improve a bit under a Trump presidency.” or “Fuck the whole lot of you. This country doesn’t want you here.” Be it subtle or overt, the message is clear, White America is more than willing to look past bigotry if it means they have the slightest chance to prosper.
And here we are, now three days since Election Day, 2016. The sun continues to rise. The world continues to spin, yet I cannot shake the specter of fear and doubt of the future from my mind. Uncertain times are ahead, that much I am sure of, but that’s about all I can be sure of. I do know that White Supremacists have been emboldened by Trump’s win. Racist messages have been popping up at schools. White men have been ripping the hijabs off of Muslim women. Swastikas have been painted on buildings. Children, middle school aged children, have been recorded chanting “Build the wall” at Royal Oak Middle School. That one hits close to home. I live in Detroit and Royal Oak isn’t too far away from here.
So, to my fellow minorities, be safe out there. There may not be many silver linings around the clouds these days but, as Kendrick Lamar said, We gon’ be alright.