Another day, another insult from president-elect Donald Trump.
As you have no doubt heard, on the eve of MLK weekend Trump took to attacking the legacy of civil-rights icon and Georgia congressman John Lewis:
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
At this point, I’m not surprised by ad hominem Twitter rants fired off by our next president. I’m more stunned by the continual fake shock espoused by my liberal friends on social media. Every damn day, I see white progressives post “Trump has gone too far this time” or “I’m scared for this country” or “We are now entering a dangerous America.”
I sit there laughing — often hysterically — but this weekend I couldn’t take it anymore.
For me, as a black gay man, America has always been a dangerous place. The intersection of my race and sexual orientation doubles the routine discrimination and disparity that make access and equity for me in this country more difficult than for those who are heterosexual and not of color. People who consider themselves progressives should understand what that identity truly entails: improving the way things are. An initial burst of fear-mongering after Trump’s election victory was understandable, but it has since become a compulsive, lazy trope that isn’t changing anything. For many, it’s whining from a position of privilege that folks don’t want to come to terms with.
Let’s just stop acting like we don’t know why Trump won the presidency — white people are to blame.
No, I’m not being racist — I can’t be, no matter how much you’d like to pretend that blacks collectively hold the kind of institutional power that could possibly oppress whites. In America, white people still hold the ability to make or break the country because of the way our political system is structured. The majority of every national demographic of color voted against Trump, but that wasn’t enough to flip the majority of white Americans who decided to vote for him regardless of his offensive remarks and policies on immigrants, Muslims, women, people of color, the disabled, and many others.
This wasn’t just a working-class victory — educated suburban white people also voted for Trump. And despite his flagrantly sexist remarks targeting women, Trump was able to get the overall majority of white female voters. In a nutshell: Disgruntled white people voted to maintain their privilege over a more fair and perfect union for the rest of us.
White liberals living in La La Land is how we got here.
Folks ignoring intersectionality is how we got here.
Democrats pretending that their crap didn’t stink is how we got here.
The tolerance of corrupt political machines is how we got here.
White supremacy is how we got here.
I refuse to march against or protest Trump’s presidency, because he isn’t the only problem. He is simply an avatar of a larger oppressive force that has been harming underrepresented people for centuries. Trump didn’t invent his privilege — he took advantage of it. An old white rich man with no previous political experience is going to occupy the White House, and America let it happen. Folks want to argue that Hillary Clinton got the majority of the popular vote, but the fact that Trump had any competitive margin at all within the electorate is still telling.
So on Friday, January 20th, I will not weep or act as though I’m emotionally ruined by the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. White people in this country have always backstabbed people of color, and now we will witness the biggest political example of it so far in the 21st century. It wasn’t ignorance nor “fake news” that led to this day — a deliberate push to undermine equality for all was the culprit. And I personally bear no guilt as a person of color who will continue to live in a country where we still needed to remind people that black lives matter while a black man sat in the Oval Office.
What I will do on Friday is what I’ve been doing all my life — surviving and striving to combat a daily onslaught of oppression. This isn’t a new America, but a more honest one. I can no longer pretend that white supremacy doesn’t surround me. It’s real, it’s visceral — anyone trying to act like it exists only in small towns with uneducated folks who work factory jobs is lying.
The oppression exists in our own city, which is predominantly occupied by people of color, who are also the hardest hit by generational poverty.
It exists in our local government, where Democrats have ruled for decades and political corruption continues to cripple our communities.
It exists in our local police department, whose union endorsed Trump and whose officers continue to stop and frisk black and Latinx men at disproportionate rates.
It lingers in our struggling public school system and uncontrollable gentrification.
And it dances through our Gayborhood and social scenes, where bar owners can hurl racial slurs and still garner fiscal support.
This Friday, America will get what it deserves — a Trump presidency. But on that same day, I will continue to fight for what I deserve — a more liberated sense of being. For the first time in my life, I’m actually going to sit back and let white people come to terms with the mess they’ve made. My enslaved ancestors have already built this bed called America. It’s now up to the descendants of their masters to choose whether they want to lie in it.