Blackness in the age of Trump
The first “racist incident” I can remember happened when I was 10. I was in the 5th grade. Broad Brook elementary, Broad Brook, CT. A white kid called me nigger. I (obviously) didn’t like that. We fought. I don’t remember who won, but we both got sent to the principal’s office.
He got off scot-free, I got a 5-day suspension and “psychological counseling”. I think I knew, right there, that this world wasn’t going to treat me fairly, and that my skin color would have a lot to do with that. I won’t bore you with all the racist incidents, the slights, the slurs, the microaggressions, the endless suspicions that we’re “up to something”,that all POC endure on a regular basis. You’ve heard it all before, and if you’re a POC you EXPERIENCE it on the daily. But, as we all endure the train wreck of Donald Trump’s “Presidency” , it makes me reflect back on what my experience was before Trump, and what it is now, today.
Holy mother of fuck, it’s worse.
I have NEVER, in my life, felt such hostility directed my way, in my day-to-day life, just for EXISTING. You can see and feel it as you walk the streets of New York. A sort of proud ignorance, an UNMASKING of every, before now, SECRET racist, who now feels emboldened to embrace the darkness in their soul, and ACT upon it. You see it with how cavalier police are with black lives. That issue predates Trump, but WITH Trump, and Racist Sessions as AG? Open season on our black asses. You saw it in Charlottesville, You saw it with the”Tiki-Torch March”. You saw it with Hurricane Harvey, with reports of how black folks were being “passed up” for rescue, and having racial slurs hurled at them. You see it and see it, and SEE IT.
But many white folks still deny it.
I had a small role in Paul Haggis’ “ Crash” years ago. It released in 2005, the year of Katrina. At the time,I felt, and I think many of the cast felt, we were helping move the ball forward, just a bit, on race in America. The Academy clearly agreed. But, I’ve had so many “Crash moments” since then, I don’t really know how much of an impact was made. America has a lot of darkness in her soul, yet to be purged. I’m not sure WHAT it’ll take for people to realize that “race” is a HUMAN construct. In reality, the only race in Earth is human. We are all one.
There have been several tellings of the “Tuskeegee Airmen” story, but my favorite one is the one HBO did. Andre Braugher played Benjamin O. Davis. In a very powerful monologue, one of his lines: “How do I feel about my country? And how does my country feel about me?”
Next month, I turn 48 years old..and I still don’t truly know the answer to that question.