My dearest America: It’s not me, it’s you.

humans
Graffiti credit to Banksy (if you don’t know who he is, look him up).

It’s 11:31 AM on Thursday, November 10th, 2016. It’s been almost 34 hours since I saved my first “President Trump” article. The article, “President Trump: A colossal failure for democracy and our terrifying new reality,” was posted by Salon at 1:50 AM on Wednesday, November 9th. At this point in the wee hours of the morning, Donald Trump hadn’t quite won the 270 electoral votes needed to make him the official President-elect. His victory was a projection–a surreal, alarming projection. At 2:31 AM, The Guardian published the first article (that I saw) announcing the United States of America’s 45th President:

Donald Trump wins presidential election, plunging US into uncertain future

After that, the headlines rolled in like a rising tsunami of anger and grief and fear and uncertainty:

AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, The New Yorker

TRUMP’S AMERICA, HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT, The New Yorker

Trump won. Now we organize to block him, every step of the way, The Guardian

The Audacity of Hopelessness, The New York Times

Panel: What does the US election result say about misogyny?, The Guardian

How It Feels For A Victim of Sexual Assault To Watch Donald Trump Get Elected, Bustle (this one especially hit home for me)

Billy Bush Was Fired After ‘Access Hollywood’ Assault Talk, But Trump Gets To Become President, The Huffington Post

A LONG, SAD NIGHT IN WASHINGTON, DC, Literary Hub

White America Proves How Much It Hates Women (and Latinos, Muslims, Blacks and Jews), Alternet

Donald Trump’s presidency is going to be a disaster for the white working class, Vox

A call to action for journalists covering President Trump, Washington Post (a CTA I will not ignore)

Donald Trump’s Victory Proves That America Hates Women, Slate

Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch, Washington Post

Misogyny now has the White House seal of approval, The Boston Globe

“I Will Pass Through This…”, The Paris Review

America Elects a Bigot, The New York Times

The President-elect faces court date in fraud case, MSNBC

A Trump Presidency Says That Americans Condone Sexual Assault, Paste

And here are some reactions from around the world (images courtesy of NBC):

“L’ouragan” (translation: hurricane) by France’s Le Figaro. “Die Nacht, in der der Western starb” (translation: The night the West died) by a German newspaper. The headline for Germany’s Die Welt read: “The World is Upside Down” (I think you can pick out which one that is). “Disbelief, horror, and downright mockery. If the reaction of world newspapers to Donald Trump’s victory is a barometer of public opinion then America’s president elect has bridges to build,” Alexander Smith writes for NBC News.

At 2:31 AM, America told me it didn’t love me. I almost added the word, “anymore,” to the end of that sentence, but misogyny and rape culture didn’t begin to exist when Donald Trump was elected…it’s existed all along. It just crept out of the shadows and stood proudly in the sun.

Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office yet, and his campaign rhetoric is manifesting in ugly ways. Swastikas are being graffitied. Neo-Nazi sites are urging members to troll liberals to “get some of them to kill themselves.” Racial slurs are being thrown. Minorities are being intimidated in public spaces (sometimes even by police officers). Women are being sexually harassed and assaulted. Little boys are grabbing the vaginas of little girls. Middle school students are chanting “Build the wall.” High School students are placing “colored” and “white” signs above drinking fountains. Our youth, our future, are parroting the hate speech spewed by then demagogue, and now President. (And in case you were wondering: no, I didn’t make any of those allegations up.)

Even on my own campus, SUNY Cortland, we’ve experienced “blatant displays of bias and disrespect […] toward members of the campus community,” as said by President Erik Bitterbaum in an email sent to students, faculty, and staff on Wednesday.

I’ve saved close to two hundred articles–I intend to read each and every one–and several videos, and many more passionate anti-Trump, pro-Love Facebook posts. I have so much to say, but I don’t even know where to start. In the darkest hours of Wednesday morning, I sat in my bed, on Madison Street in Cortland, NY, and scrolled through my Facebook news feed in abject despair…for hours. Scrolling. Refreshing. Scrolling. Refreshing. Scrolling. Refreshing. I tried to go back to sleep and failed time and time again. I gave up, and at 1:31 AM, I picked up my phone and text a friend the “worried” emoji.

worried

I scrolled through the faces on my emoji keyboard, carefully selecting the “right one” to express my emotion in that exact moment. I didn’t realize until now just how precise my decision was. According to “An Emoji to English Dictionary,” the face I chose is “worried,” and the Unicode publish standard meaning for this face is: shock, horror, disgust and fear. Unicode Consortium is woke! Within minutes, he text back, “Same”. And then at 2:13 AM, I emailed my mentor the simplistic sad face that’s existed since the dawn of keyboards:

sad

He responded at 2:16 AM, “Hillary was not a good candidate. I’m elated she lost. I voted for Stein against both of those killer clowns.” I didn’t disagree with him. I wrote back, “I’m not sad Hillary lost. I’m sad because America is a lot more racist and sexist than I thought. As a rape survivor, the knowledge that so few people care about ‘me’ and that they could vote for Mr. Grab Them By The Pussy is devastating. I knew they were out there, but I didn’t know how overwhelmingly popular his opinions were.” I text two of my girlfriends the same message, “Donald Trump is our next president. It is official.” One message went out at 2:30 AM, and the other message went out at 2:37 AM. Both of them responded by 3:20 AM.

Everyone was awake. Everyone was watching in horror.

11 years ago, I scraped myself off the ground and wiped the dirt from my hands after being raped. Struggling to get out of bed after seeing Trump’s victory felt much the same way. I felt naked and assaulted all over again. I sat in my bed trembling and crying. People are coining our collective fear as  “Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder.” As much as I’d like to say this is satire, it isn’t. Our fear is not a parody. Our fear is not a melodrama. Our fear is real.

It should not be my job to understand my rapist, but I will if it means building bridges.

This is the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election:

  • Women are scheduling appointments to get IUDs (because Trump wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade).
  • People have created “Donald Trump Is Not My President” support groups.
  • Californians are calling for #CalExit, their secession from the United States. Shortly thereafter, Oregon followed suit.
  • A petition has started to abolish the Electoral College.
  • Muslim women say they’re scared to wear their hijab.
  • Women everywhere are crying and vomiting and not sleeping. Myself included.
  • People are protesting all over the country.

Watching “Not My President” protests outside Trump Tower gives me literal chills. People holding “Love Trumps Hate” placards converged on Fifth Avenue and shut it down. People gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland. They took to the streets in Chicago. And Philadelphia. And Boston. And Austin. And DC. And Seattle. And Portland. And San Francisco. And LA. And college campuses all over the nation. And The Commons in my little city of Ithaca. My lips quiver, my nostrils flare with the sudden burn of coming tears, my eyes water and tears cascade my cheek, and my heart fills with a sigh of relief in their solidarity but also dread. These people are so scared and so motivated to oppose Donald Trump that they stand outside his building and decry his presidency. After feeling so rejected by my fellow Americans, I’m glad to know there are others out there like me, but it also kills me to see so many people who are living in fear. Our media is already trying to normalize Donald Trump, and make his term in office “passable.” NO! NO! NO! I’m sick of pretending everything is fine. When did President Obama go from hurling insults to shaking hands? When did CNN go from excoriating Trump to pandering to him? Why is it tolerable that the future of our country is now being boiled down to an exchange of pleasantries? FUCK THAT. Compassion and honesty and empathy should not be a quixotic idea. I will not pander to bigotry. The public turns to poetry and prose for comfort in turbulent times, and I can promise you this: I will never stop putting pen to paper as catharsis for you and me. I will fight for humanity.

When life descends into the pit I must become my own candle Willingly burning myself To light up the darkness around me.

– Alice Walker

All being said, I do think people of privilege will be ‘okay.’ But that’s antithetical to what’s wrong with a Donald Trump presidency. Donald Trump so exquisitely exploited white people’s fear of POC that he was able to pull the wool over their eyes about everything he is NOT going to do for them. Dehumanizing and demonizing people for who they are, or what they worship, or the color of their skin, or their anatomy, or their sexual orientation, should be THE FIRST FUCKING RED FLAG for voting against Donald Trump. The fact that anyone can overlook any of his rhetoric and focus solely on his economic policies, is one of the most privileged and basic statements you can make.

11,000 people voted for a dead fucking gorilla.

I was originally just going to borrow a few great points from Damon Young’s statement on VSB (verysmartbrothas), but the entire essay was so spot on I had to display the entire thing. And for Pete’s sake, we all know you’re most likely not going to open a link, so I’ve made it easy by copying and pasting the whole thing right here in my blog. It’s your job now to pause all the conversations in your brain, scroll, and move your eyes. Please, please, please read this. If you’re busy, if you’re distracted, if you’re usually a “skimmer,” put this away and open it back up when you can focus. This is important.

There is an understandable inclination to believe that by voting for and ultimately electing Donald Trump, White people (particularly working class White people) voted against their own self-interests. After all, this is a man who became a billionaire by swindling and defrauding and sometimes just outright not paying people exactly like them, and there’s no real evidence that a Trump presidency will be much different for them than the Trump industry has been.
This is not particularly untrue. But it misses the point. As I did.

It — and in this context, “it” would be “the entire election season and today’s reaction” — reminds me of a story about Dorothy Dandridge. While visiting a hotel in Las Vegas in the 50s, the iconic entertainer dared dip her toe into the all-White swimming pool; an act which made the hotel management so upset — so disgusted by Dandridge’s toe contaminating the water — that they subsequently drained the entire thing.

Now, this story has never been confirmed to be true. But America’s racially antagonistic foundation, history, present, zeitgeist, and legacy makes it believable. Because there are many, many, many other stories — hundreds of thousands of them — of White people being so appalled and repelled by the presence of Blackness that they willingly and enthusiastically did something that would seem to go against their self-interests. And its with this context that the idea of a pool being drained — a painstakingly long and messy and arduous and expensive process — just because a Black person roundly considered one the world’s most beautiful women got her toenails wet becomes a plausible story.

Of course that happened. Because it happens all the time.

In this election, White people did not vote against their self-interests. They may have voted against a self-interest — a few actually — but not their most important one: The preservation of White supremacy. Retaining the value of a Whiteness they believed to be increasingly devalued superseded everything else. Including their own livelihoods; their own physical and financial well-beings; their own Christianity; their own agency; their own money; their own educations; their own futures; their own children’s futures, their own country’s legacy; their own country’s status with the rest of the world; their own environment; their own food, air, and water; their own rights; and their own lives.

And please note that I am not including any qualifiers. For working class Whites. Or Whites from rust-belt cities. Or White men. Or White people who didn’t graduate from college. Or rural Whites. Or Midwestern Whites. Or Southern whites. This is on ALL White people. Who are complicit even if they didn’t vote for Trump. Because they obviously haven’t done enough to repudiate the mindsets existing in their families and amongst their friends; possessed by their co-workers and neighbors; shared during private holiday gatherings and public city townhalls. Who have shown us that nothing existing on Earth or Heaven or Hell matters more to them than being White and whichever privileges — real or fabricated; concrete or spiritual — existing as White in America provides.

I admit, I underestimated them. Of course, I knew of the presence of White supremacy and the appeal of perpetuating it. You can not exist as a Black person in America without at least a rudimentary and peripheral understanding of it. What I didn’t realize, however, was exactly how powerful this want to retain Whiteness is. I assumed, wrongly, that enough of them would value their own lives, their own humanity, more than the need for White supremacy to be preserved. But I failed to realize how intertwined these things are for them. There apparently is no point in even existing without existing as White. Whiteness is past an identity or status. It is their oxygen, their plasma, their connective tissue.

I’m trying very hard to find silver linings today. Some source of comfort or consolation. But I can not. Maybe I will eventually. But right now, this, the idea that White people are so possessed with clutching and cultivating and elevating White supremacy that they will endanger and outright sacrifice their own fucking lives to do so, is all I can think about. And if they feel that way about their own lives, how do you think they feel about mine?

I will not sit back and placate to your insensibilities. I will not sacrifice my morals and virtues to make you comfortable in your ignorance, in your hatred, in your lack of empathy, in your lack of education. I want you to be uncomfortable. I want you to look in the mirror and question yourself. Stop basking in your perceived status quo–life isn’t about maintaining what little of the crumbs of the bourgeois you think you have. Step out of your bubble. Look around you. Smell the air. Taste life for what it really is.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

It’s quite ironic to me that alt-right Republican pundits are celebrating our president-elect Trump’s victory and doing whatever they can to quell our voices and demanding we “whiny liberal pussies” just “get over it” and “move on” and support our new leader. Wasn’t it you who so vigorously fought against the “establishment”? What would you have us do with the contradiction you preach? I will not conform. Apathy will always be an enigma to me. I will always fight for the crucible of love and peace. Just like you refused to swallow the blue pill, I will not swallow the red pill. Our system was built to allow rich white men to profligate off the hard work of the proletariat…YOUR WORK. I know you’re disenchanted. I know you’re disillusioned. I know you’re disempowered. I know you want change. I know higher education is expensive and insular. I know you just want to keep your job from moving to Mexico. I know how hard you work. I know you’re tired. I know you’re just trying to stay afloat. I know you’re oppressed. I know our democratic regime has turned us into slavish souls driven by hedonism, and narcissism. Just like you, I understand the venality of our government. But unlike you, I wholeheartedly know Donald Trump is a disaster not just for me, but for the world. Do you know your “whiteness” and your “class” and  your “gender” is sold to you at a profit? Everything you think you fight for is a social construct. Look past the humdrum, and the trivial, and the blurred minutiae, and wake up.

If you are lucky enough to enjoy the spoils of privilege, make a longer table instead of building a taller wall.

Americans believe in the reality of ‘race’ as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.

But race is the child of racism, not the father.

– Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between The World and Me

A child rallied a crowd at a protest in Austin. She couldn’t have been more than seven, or eight, or nine. Her wisdom transcended her nascence. Her precociousness was endearing and upsetting. It touched my heart but made me angry. I’m glad to see love and empathy in the heart of a young lady, but it sickens me that she’s already concerned with the vile nature of our world. A child should not have to sacrifice their innocence to plead for love for all. FUCK YOU WHITE AMERICA FOR DOING THIS TO HER. Watch the video here, but these are her words:

I am a female!

I am mixed-race!

I am a child!

And I cannot vote!

But that will not stop me!

From getting heard!

Love is love!

And love trumps hate!

And you know what our new President-elect had to say about people exercising their First Amendment right? HIS FIRST OFFICIAL TWEET AFTER THE ELECTION? In Dan Rather’s words, “Trump just Tweeted what can be read as a threat to all three core principals of American democracy”:

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

baltimore.jpg

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