I’m a liberal progressive with some conservative tendencies. If, in this new America, that offends or frightens you, you should move on. If you’re actually interested in dialog, then welcome.
To me this date – November 8th, 2016 – corresponds to the assassination of Kennedy as my mother described it to me. She even made a scrapbook that I can pull out one day, mouldering in some closet at her house.
In contrast to my mother, I did not lose a beloved President. What was assassinated today was my hope. My hope for my children and my grandchildren. In fact, I think I would actively advise my children not to have children of their own, at this point. Political contraceptive.
How bizarre, you think, “What’s this he’s going on about, then?”
You see, I’ve survived this America before. For years, children in the town where I grew up ganged up and beat me, calling me “nigger.” Does that offend you? The truth of it? How do you think it makes me feel? It felt like all of the children in my town were against me, but in truth it was only a few. Some even took me under their wings in a rather negligent way – “You’re not that kind of nigger”
And while they may not have been hard-core racists (I am here writing this, after all), they taught me all I needed to know about America. That for the most part, as a non-white man, at best I will only be tolerated by the vast majority of Americans. That no matter that I’ve served my country, educated myself and worked hard for nearly 40 years, I’m only just a nigger in America. Or a “damn Muslim.”
I’ve learned that most people will stand by as I am being abused, if they are not actively participating or egging the participants on. If they are particularly tolerant, they may just look on in fear or disgust.
Perhaps even less grace will be afforded my children. Will they have to hide their beliefs as Muslims? Will they disavow culture and upbringing in order to eke out survival as brown people in America? Or will they live a hidden, Anne Frank version of Islam – the kind that comes out from the crawlspace only when the coast is clear and candles are lit?
I watch as my liberal white friends shrug and say “Maybe next time.” Or “That was disappointing.” It’s ok, I’m used to it. Trump’s America is nothing new to me. It is only the horror I have been struggling against my entire life. I went into decades long debt to bankers to raise myself up, studied hard, did the right things. But here I stand today, solidly on square one.
Maybe I and my family will be registered as Muslims. He said that, you know. Yes, he did. And you supported him in it, because both Democrats and Republicans colluded to frighten you to death, so they could make more money and garner more individual power.
You want me to be outraged by Trey Goudy’s laughable and expensive crusade against Hillary? He’s only nearly every (white) man I ever knew for the first 15 years of my life. This is nothing new to me. I learned to laugh at the fear they tried to feed me. “Is that really the best you can do?”
The real problem is that I drank the juice. When Obama was elected president, I thought, “Well now, we’ve finally arrived.” Maybe the country really isn’t mostly racist after all. But now, you and I are faced with the plain truth. That bigoted aggression was only hiding, living and growing – festering under the skin, until Trump popped our collective boil.
And, in treating that festering boil with the worst kind of doctor, my hope has finally been lost. I don’t believe in you anymore, America. Harriet Tubman did. Frederick Douglass did. Susan B. Anthony did. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did. You may not believe it, but Malcolm X did too. How? He never left. He never gave up. He died fighting for what he believed in.
Not so much to believe in, really. Just the possibly – the hope – that there could be an America where lynchings, firebombings, extra-judicial killings, segregation and mass-shootings was not “a thing.” If you think about it, that’s really what America actually stands for – order and fairness for all its citizens, and beyond that, for all the world’s citizens. But hey, America, you can’t criticize other countries for being savage any more. You’re in the dirt with them, now.
Malcolm X is my hero. As is Gandhi. And Lincoln. All men who lost their lives fighting for basic human rights. But you know what? After three centuries of concerted effort, I’m pretty sure it’s ok to say, “Hey guys, this isn’t working.” I mean, my ancestors were slaves. But they were also the first Europeans to settle this land. I wonder which is worse?
So I can tell you, because I have been living this dichotomy for almost fifty years. There is the America we’d like to believe in. And there’s the America that actually exists.
So, what’s the point of all this navel-gazing? Well, America, you’ve forced my hand. Maybe, like Richard Wright, I could find solace in residence in another country. Or maybe I just give up.
I love watching the internets talk about how Trump will bring this country together when he has spent the last two years (and longer) tearing it apart. And he’s not completely to blame. The media never kept the candidates focused on hard questions. I still really have no idea of the specifics of either party’s platform for this election, except for the vigorous wagging of fingers. Literally the only candidates who offered solid policy solutions were hushed and pushed aside.
I can tell you that that I will not wait for my property to be seized, or my far distant family to be purified in nuclear fire, or to be encamped as the Jews and Japanese were (another Nazi Germany/America correlation).
So, all you pundits espousing “hope?” Yeah, not for me. I will not live to see my daughter imprisoned, or my son relegated to camp labor for the “good of America.” Hyperbole? No, it’s what Trump promised. He has the entire Congress and will probably have the Supreme Court as well. Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz AND Michael Pence will have actual, almost completely unopposed power in this country.
Some of you really don’t see a problem. Here’s what I see. Women who die from septicemia trying to get illegal abortions (no more Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood). More police brutality and overreach (Trump promised nationwide stop-and-frisk – almost exclusively enforced on people of color). More black people being killed for no reason. The literal extinction of Native Americans (Trump and his cronies have got to make more money, after all), even more tens of thousands of Muslim lives destroyed all over the world in order to stop a few thousand extremists who pose no imminent danger to the US and nearly always only kill other Muslims.
But feel satisfied, America. You did good. You got what you wanted.
And to the inevitable liberal/progressive voices out there telling me to keep my chin up and keep protesting and being active in the government? I say, “Fuck you.” I’ve been doing that my entire life to laughs and derision. This was my reward.