I can’t believe I’m writing this, but on November 8, 2016, we elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Just eight years prior, on November 4, 2008, I voted in my second presidential election for Barack Obama. I want to bask in the greatness of that moment because the present feels like a gaping void. I want to hold onto it because there will never be another president like Obama and the return on our hard-fought investment in him now feels cheap.
With President Obama, we voted for progress. Donald Trump has threatened that notion. He’s threatened to repeal and replace Obamacare and questioned the legitimacy of the United Nations. Our worldly outlook is up for question as he’s publicly criticized several countries, including China, while playing coy with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s presidency has the capability of deeply threatening my generation’s future. For categorization purposes, I am considered a millennial. But two things are very clear when I enter the room—I am a woman and I am Black.
“Black” and “woman” are as central to my existence as the air I breathe, and today I feel threatened. A vote for Trump was a vote against the prospect of change, an ideal championed in the two presidential campaigns of President Barack Obama.
Trump dismissed African-Americans and reduced us to a gang of thugs afraid to walk down our “violence-ridden” streets. His damning and corrosive language knows no bounds—it did not stop against women; 12 and counting have accused him of sexual assault. It did not stop against Mexicans or Muslims, and those with disabilities. What’s most disheartening is that now we are forced to swallow all of it along with the results of this bitter election.
On election night eight years ago, I will never forget rushing home from a bar in D.C.’s DuPont Circle after CNN projected Obama would sweep the nation’s capital. I will never forget the exaltation of watching Wolf Blitzer call the election after Obama won the battleground states of Virginia and North Carolina. I stared at the screen for 10 minutes before being able to shake off the shock, to jump around in my socks with my roommate while tears streamed down our faces.
The subsequent eight years have been bumpy, no doubt. We’ve watched President Obama fumble with police brutality, drones and mass deportations. We’ve yelled at the screen and bit our tongues to remember that although he will always be Black America’s president, he’s America’s president first.
But I want to hold onto the memory of what America did on election night eight years ago, because I’m not sure of a clear path to a bright future.
I know we have to let go and let God, but when will we ever see a Black man turn the tide in the way he did? With the love he has for his unapologetically Black wife and their two beautiful daughters? Do you know what that representation meant to us? I say us, because the Obamas did not just touch Black men and women, they proved that the stereotypes held against people of color have no weight; their existence bears no truth.
We know the rise of Trump began as a slow churn driven by rural White men and women who felt disenfranchised. Trump’s campaign and his subsequent election victory unearthed the foul stench of injustice that lies in plain sight.
The White men and women who elected Donald Trump border on insanity with the claim that he’s fit to lead us into greatness. And for the men and women of color who voted for him, I pray for them as well.
Trump’s claims of a “rigged system” ring true. Hillary Clinton’s loss proved that sometimes no amount of skill, work experience and/or education can withstand the stronghold of White supremacy. That is something we as people of color have always known. I have never felt more “woke” than I do in this moment.
Early this morning when Trump’s victory was announced, the tears that I held back for Trayvon, for Sandra, for Philando, and for Trump’s hateful and dismissive rhetoric, finally and rightfully came tumbling down.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty