I wrote a blog about a year ago called On Existential Anger. In it, I spoke to an unnamable anger that I feel pretty generally. I sometimes joke, that like Bruce Banner, that’s my secret. I am not angry without direction right now. I am furious about Tuesday, that the work that I do is so without avail, that still despite a “national conversation on race” that people still voted overwhelmingly for an openly racist man. A man that had David Duke celebrating. If something you have done causes men like that to celebrate, you truly need to reevaluate your decisions and decision-making skills.
We elected a man who thinks that grabbing women is just locker room talk, and causes folks to rethink if that is sexual assault. Simply, yes. Yes, it is sexual assault. There is no wiggle room here. The same conservatives who railed against Bill Clinton for an extramarital affair 20 years ago, seemingly don’t have a problem with his absolute disregard for women and their autonomous control of their bodies to be free of sexual assault but to also make decisions on how to live their lives.
I am angry at my fellow white folks, who overwhelmingly voted for him. People say that hate is rampant in this country. I don’t think that’s true. I honestly don’t. I think fear, however, is rampant. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the other. Some people who are so scared of the US no longer being majority white, majority Christian, majority male (never actually been true but w/e), majority heterosexual, majority cisgender. That’s bullshit. This is a country that was initially taken from people that weren’t white and Christian. But it was founded as a refuge for people. Yes, that’s the dominant narrative, and it’s never been truly true, but it’s the narrative we speak until that façade is challenged.
We (white people) who think ourselves as allies need to no longer leave bigoted statements unchallenged. We must stop colluding with a system of white supremacy. We must stop hiding in our privilege. This is not a zero-sum game. By disrobing and casting aside our privilege it doesn’t mean that our life will be disrupted, save for perhaps the more enriching relationships we might have with folks who have been historically and contemporarily disenfranchised. My wonderful partner stated that “My own privilege was not seeing the deep, deep racism in our country that is making this happen. I thought it would be a landslide.” I think many of us thought this. We surround ourselves in an echo chamber and don’t perhaps see, or allow ourselves to see the intense pervasiveness of heteropatriarchal white supremacy that is still everywhere.
At the Trump victory rally, someone said kill Obama. He has said that he thinks Hillary should be jailed, and he will make moves to look into this upon his election. We have voted in a fascist in the making. Omarosa Manigault, a Trump advocate has said that those who vote again Trump will be put on a list. This is frightening. John Nichols said on Democracy Now on November 9th that “we have to understand the genius of Kimberlé Crenshaw when she spoke of intersectionality. And the reality is that if we want to care about our civil rights and civil liberties we better look for the people who are going to be most threatened most quickly and rally around them because that moment is going to come where all those rights up that ladder become threatened.” This is a modern day Niemöller statement.
This is a call for all people who care about people. We must ensure that hate crimes are challenged. Already I have heard first-hand stories from my students who have faced exercises in white supremacy and xenophobia perpetuated seemingly by the legitimacy that a Trump election has given their acts. As an educator, how can I teach compassion and love when the leader of our country is a bully? And I’m in higher education, I cannot fathom how my friends who teach in elementary school must feel.
This is a scary time for sure. I’m not trying to be another white progressive misusing the words of Dr. King, but a colleague said these words at a lecture last night and they resonated with me for the hopelessness and despair and anger I feel. He reminded me of the famous quote by Dr. King who said “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
We have to keep moving forward, and we have to keep challenging bigotry that we see. Keep showing empathy, keep loving, keep holding, keep one another safe. I love you all. Love one another too.