Thoughts On Trump and the White Boy Who Called Me a Stupid Bitch
I keep getting flashbacks of the blonde white boy who stood an inch from my face when I was 17 and called me a stupid bitch.
I was visiting my friend who attended UCLA. I had some free time before I left LA for Middletown, Connecticut, where I was studying at Wesleyan University. We decided to walk to a popular burrito stand (RIP) in Westwood that was walking distance from campus.
I ate my burrito, and I watched a blonde white boy approach. I could tell he had been drinking, and I could sense that this was going to be an uncomfortable encounter.
Soon after ordering his food, he started complaining about the service at the stand, denigrating the workers and the pace at which they were working. The workers were Brown. He was white. The power dynamics made me uncomfortable and upset. He was purposefully speaking loud enough so the workers could hear him, and they of course said nothing in return. I can’t honestly tell you that I remember exactly what he said. But I can vividly recall the fury that slowly crept up inside me as I listened and watched.
The next thing I remember is standing directly in front of his face as we shouted at one another. I had told him to lay off the workers, and he didn’t take it well (shocker, right?) He asked what I was even doing in Westwood. “Do you even go to UCLA?” In other words, who the fuck did I think I was, this Brown girl, hanging out in Westwood, talking to him like that, on his own turf?
“I turned UCLA down,” I explained. “Instead, I went to Yale.”
This wasn’t entirely true. I did turn UCLA down, but I turned it down for Wesleyan, a lesser known, prestigious, private liberal arts school that like Yale, is also in Connecticut. But I knew he wouldn’t have heard of Wesleyan, and I needed to make a point. In that moment, I needed him to know I was smart enough to get into UCLA and was lucky enough to be able to say, “No, thank you,” to them and go to another great school instead. So I lied.
He was genuinely shocked and horrified. He screamed in response, “I don’t believe you go to Yale! Show me your ID! You don’t look like you go to Yale. You look like a STUPID BITCH.” The way in which he pronounced and emphasized the words, “stupid bitch” sticks with me to this day. He was red in the face and he was furious. He was skinny, but a bit taller than me, and you know drunk angry white boys can do some damage when they want, so he probably could’ve physically hurt me. But I didn’t care. We yelled some more as I told him I didn’t need to show him shit (plus, my ID said Wesleyan! Not Yale!) Eventually, my friend encouraged me to walk away. So I did. Shook up, but unharmed.
The workers were probably grateful that I left. I’m not sure that the scene I caused made their night any easier.
I recently e-mailed my friend to ask if she remembered that night. She answered, “I was there. I don’t remember much other than the aggression and anger towards you!”
I remember the anger and aggression too. It’s much like the anger and aggression you witness in the videos of people at Trump rallies that are being circulated on the internet. It is anger and aggression that is rooted in white supremacism, the very foundation of our country. It is anger and aggression that the purest of racists let show when they feel their comfort being disrupted by people of color showing even the slightest bit of social mobility.
It wouldn’t have mattered if I had a Yale ID to show that guy. Or if I had a UCLA ID to show him. In his mind, I didn’t belong. In his mind, I looked like the people making his burritos. In his mind, apparently, I looked like a stupid bitch.
It is because of encounters like the one I had at the burrito stand that I’ve never been able to listen to Donald Trump the politician and laugh him off as a joke. I’ve known that his words would stir up deeply held beliefs in people all over the country and bring them to the surface in violent and terrifying ways. So as I recently read some of the reactions to the Trump rally videos, I couldn’t help but envy the blissfully unaware folks who were shocked and dismayed by what they were watching and hearing.
Most people of color who grew up in the US have known that these types of people, the most rabid of Trump’s supporters, exist. Some of us have had racist words hurled at us, some of us have experienced more subtle forms of discrimination or prejudice, some of us have had traumatic encounters with law enforcement, and some of us are just bracing ourselves for when it happens, hoping we make it out alive.
I want to be clear though — the venomous words that come out of Donald Trump are not new and neither are the ideas he is proposing, especially with respect to immigration. (Aside: Look up Pete Wilson and Prop 187 and remind me to tell you about the first time I went to a protest with my whole family).
Those of us concerned about keeping Trump out of office should remember and understand that making Trump disappear from the political scene is not the same thing as eradicating white supremacy or dismantling patriarchy. Our collective work does not end when Trump loses. What do we think is going to happen to the millions who voted for him and believed in him once he loses? Where will their anger go? We’ve already heard them chant, “Build that wall!” to intimidate Brown high school kids on opposing teams at basketball games. We’ve heard them call Hillary Clinton a whore and demand to “hang the bitch.” We’ve heard them completely misunderstand and misrepresent Islam. But Trump didn’t plant these ideas in their head. He merely brought them to the surface by creating a safe space for these folks to be their authentic selves. Once Trump loses a platform on which to stand, his supporters may lie a little more dormant, but their beliefs will still be there, bubbling and festering, clawing their way out into the world.
So if you’re fired up about keeping Trump out of office, I hope your fire stays lit. Because this is just the beginning.
And to the white boy who called me a stupid bitch: I will never forget you, or the way in which you couldn’t fathom that I was in college. I hope you’re less racist now, and I hope you aren’t still terrorizing Brown workers when they’re not working fast enough for you.