Normalizing Experience: Trump and the “Us and Them” Postcolonial Complex
What happened last night is not only shocking, but it’s demoralizing. It’s making us say “I’m moving to Canada”, or “I’m not getting out of bed today”. Our instinct is to flee because nothing could be harder than dealing with the alternative. What makes this win for Trump so very unique is that it is extremely personal for much of the US. As a woman I feel personally attacked, as does the LGBTQIA community, people of color, disabled peoples, immigrants, and all other minorities. They feel like they’ve lost — not just this election, but lost a right to their inherently deserved subjectivity in this country.
All we want to do is move to another county, but we have to transcend his hate and create possibility ourselves. Here. Now.
The following excerpt is from a paper I wrote in college titled “Normalizing Experience: Minority Subjectivity & the Us and Them Postcolonial Complex”. It’s helping me position this in a way that I can try to make sense of it and postulate what we need to work on.
“There is a race against time. It is just possible that a further transformation is possible if men can come to experience themselves as “One of Us.” If, even on the basis of the crassest self-interest, we can realize that We and They must be transcended in the totality of the human race, if we in destroying them are not to destroy at all” (Laing 67).
[…] R.D. Laing uses a phenomenological and existential lens to critique the concept of “normality”, […] his theory can be beneficial in rethinking minority subjectivity. Laing’s theory of mystifying subjects and suppressing modalities of experience are the origins of society’s unrelenting tendency to view violence and subjugation as a normal necessity, using difference as means to justify itself. […] this phenomenon operates as a postcolonial complex, allowing the repressive apparatuses of functioning institutions to sustain a suppressive modality of being in the world, one that doesn’t account for the in-between, one that doesn’t account for difference.
This modality of living that Laing postulated in the 60s is the kind of platform that Trump ran on. Laing, delving into the study of experience and perception, the cruxes of social phenomenology, makes a critique of modern psychiatric care that parallels his abhorrence of the normalization of violence. Trump has built his presidential campaign on violence and alienation. Alienation has become a way of being in the world that he has categorized and normalized like modes of experience. If we mystify man by compartmentalizing certain modalities of experience as abnormal, we destroy our experience and thus ourselves.
The only way to escape this endless cycle of postcolonial conduct in the Trump era is to treat human beings as human beings and function through love rather than compartmentalizing modalities of experience as “wrong”. We have to surpass the perception of “otherness”. We have to fight hate with acceptance and equality.
Instead of immediately delving into plans to move out of the country, here are a few things to help crush the “Us and Them” Postcolonial Complex:
- Combat racism with Showing Up For Racial Justice
- Help your community with AmeriCorps
- End police violence at Campaign Zero
- Support your Muslim family and friends at the Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Be a part of your next local election as a poll worker and encourage voters to come out
- Join an organization that helps immigrants and new Americans.
Practice Self Care
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–8255
- Planned Parenthood: Give women the opportunities for proper healthcare, education, and activism.
- The Future Project: Help the young people of America fulfill their potential.
- RAINN: Assist the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network in combatting sexual violence, aiding victims, and ensuring that perpetrators are caught.
- ACLU: Uphold the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.