I can’t believe this fool really won. How I used my fear and confusion to act. (Part 1 of 3)
Holy fucking shit. I mean really, holy fucking shit. Just let that stink settle in for a moment.
Trump really won, and I again feel like a foreigner in my own country. Being born black and male in the United States is akin to being born with the gun of every cop in the country pointed at your head, so feeling like a foreigner in my country of birth is not entirely foreign to me. Just because mainstream media has recently decided to “Columbus” police brutality doesn’t mean that people haven’t been dealing with this shit for years, generations even. I remember my white coworkers being shaken to their cores upon seeing the videos of police brutality being shown over and over again on the news in the summer of 2016. I remember thinking “Man, this shit ain’t nothing new. I’ve always been a ghost in this fucking country. I’ve been told that I don’t matter my entire life.”
But this Trump shit, this dude- this is some new shit. And in spite of that, I found myself again feeling distant from my white coworkers upon the announcement of his victory.
I spent the greater part of 2016 coping with the fact that I could get shot, stabbed, and sodomized on video by a cop and they’d get a promotion and I’d get a 5 second blurb on Fox News talking about that time when I busted a car window when I was 12. I imagined that they’d then wax poetic about how I was a menace to society and how the cop that killed me should be awarded.
Trump said that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue in broad day light and people would still vote for him. I could get shot on 5th Avenue on tape, today. Period. And everything would be okay.
Last year I had a breakdown at work. It’d been a week filled with images of unarmed men that looked like me getting shot and my body and mind couldn’t take any more. I snapped and fled home avoiding cops fearing that they’d think that I was breaking the law and shoot me. My mind temporally could not differentiate between what I was seeing on screen and what I was seeing in reality.
That’s why Trump’s overt racism and bigotry doesn’t really scare me. He’s not saying anything different than black folks have been hearing our entire lives. Plus I’ve dealt with the mental gymnastics of getting myself to and from work safely whilst surrounded by thousands of Trumps with guns dressed in blue, with only my girlfriend and therapist to keep me out of a fucking straight jacket. I’m a pro at bigots.
I found myself calloused when I saw people crying about this orange lunatic babbling on TV. I wondered how they’d cope if their very existence was a “threat” to the thousands of cops just outside.
I’m happy that he got elected for two reasons.
One, when I saw the terror in my white coworkers, I felt like they had a glimpse into what I feel and people that look like me feel everyday living in this country. The majority of my professional career has mostly been spent around white people and this made me feel closer to them, and this feeling was good. I don’t think I’d realized how isolated and misunderstood being a black man in tech has made me feel.
Two, and most importantly, I’ve always accepted my “place” in this country as the natural order of things; this is the first time that I’ve ever felt compelled to stay and act.
On Wednesday, November 9th, the day after the results came in, I challenged myself and my girlfriend to take action by Sunday November 13th, and act we did.
In my next post, I will detail how we navigated through our fear, anger, and shock and walked away with two concrete first steps to be in play within a week of hearing the election results.