In the early morning of November 9th, 2016, the world learned that Donald John Trump had become the President Elect of The United States of America.
Clinton and Trump were both in my neighborhood in midtown Manhattan to watch the results.
As I walked the streets between 3 and 5AM, I saw more people than usual.
Most of them were crying or yelling.
A honking Humvee with a old fat white man waving a sign from the sunroof and telling people they’d won their country back.
Two women taking off their clothes and screaming profanity at police officers.
A homeless man selling counterfeit “Make America Great Again” hats.
A group of teen aged white girls chanting “Fuck Trump, that’s what he wants.”
A six foot five, 250 pound, red faced, sloppy drunk, ginger, pumping his arms in the air and running full speed down 6th avenue screaming, “AAHHHHHH!!…FUCK!!”
Women waving “My pussy grabs back” signs.
The media circus.
By the evening of the same day, approximately 100,000 angry New Yorkers had clogged the streets of Manhattan in protest.
Many of them marching from Union Square up to Trump Tower.
Yelling and crying.
I was going the other way, so I stepped aside and waited for them to pass.
Tanya was pissed off and yelling long before she saw me.
“Why aint you marchin’?”
“You, white boy, why aint you marchin’?”
Don’t talk to strangers.
“Hey mother fucker I’m talking to you, why aint you marchin’?”
“Aint you hear me white boy? Don’t you give a shit when I’m talkin’ to you?”
I couldn’t move, too many people.
“I bet you voted for that racist asshole didn’t you?”
No way out.
“I bet yo’ red tie wearin, white collar, cracker ass, voted for that stupid, racist, sexist, fuck.”
I wear neckties, some of them are red, this one was red, clearly that was a mistake.
People were starting to gather, I had to do something.
“Cut the shit asshole, did you vote for that mother fucker or not?”
People were watching.
“It doesn’t matter, she won New York, what difference does it make?”
In hindsight, this was a bad answer.
“So you voted for him?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“I knew it, I knew you did it. I knew you voted for him the minute I saw you wasn’t marchin’. You’re just another rich, racist, sexist, white man.”
“Lady please I-”
“You make me sick you punk ass bitch with your dumb ass bullshit. You think you’re gonna get away with this? Huh? This is revolution out here mister one percent!”
Another woman spoke up.
“Tanya is this guy bothering you?”
“Fuck yea he’s fuckin’ botherin’ me.”
“I’m just trying to go grocery shopping and she-”
“Oh so what’re you sayin’? Women and minorities and Muslims are all going to get fucked over and what, you don’t have time to go march because you have to go get groceries?
“No I just-”
“Mhm, That’s fucked up.”
“Get ’em Tanya.”
“You know what? No, you’re what’s wrong with this country. No excuse me, you miserable piece of shit because you can’t be bothered to stand up for what’s right? We righteous out here marchin’ and you can’t be bothered cause why? Because you got better things to do? You aint got time to be a decent human being?”
There was a group forming around me. I felt the wall against my back.
“What’s going on?”
“This guy’s a huge Trump fan and he’s been saying all sorts of racist stuff to Tanya.”
“That’s fucked up man, we’re out here because we love everybody, why do you have to bring your hate out into this beautiful community?”
“I didn’t say anything, I’m just going to Trader Joe’s.”
“Well you said you voted for Trump and that’s the same thing as a rape or a lynching because that’s what he wants to do to people.”
“What? No, I. No, what, no, I don’t support any of that, no one does, please just leave me alone, I’m-”
“Well then tell me why you voted for Trump then?”
“I never said I voted for Trump.”
“Oh sure.” “Yes you did, I know you did.” “Yea, you white boys are all the same.” “Are you tellin’ me you’re a big Hillary fan then?”
“No I’m not.”
“See!? Right there, I fuckin’ knew it, you love Donald Trump don’t you? You racist shit bag!”
“No, I don’t!”
At this point, Tanya got in my face and really started yelling.
“Well which is it bitch?! Because you can’t have both, so what are you?! Are you a Republican or a Democrat?! You better answer me right fucking now white boy, are you a Democrat or a Republican?! Which is it?! What are you!?”
There was a moment that sort of hung in the air. The streets were full of people and noise, but after she screamed in my face and stepped up to me, there was a second of space where a lot people were waiting to see what would happen.
I was physically up against a wall, and I was scared.
My first instinct was to cold cock the bitch with a right cross and run like hell.
Now I am not a smart man, but I know that a white man in a suit punching an irate black woman in the street while surrounded by literally thousands of pissed off Democrats and hundreds of nervous N.Y.P.D. officers the day after Trump’s election is a white man who is about to get his shit wrecked.
So that was no good.
My next instinct was to yell back at her. Something like, “I think both of them are hopelessly immoral, habitually lying, manipulative sociopaths, who are better suited for prison than for elected office and that fact that either of them can be considered candidates for the Presidency is a disgrace to our Republic and an insult to everything in this country past, present, and future!”
But I felt like that would probably end badly too.
Fortunately, I’d been in situations like this many times before, and I’d long ago discovered through trial and error the best way to handle them.
During my childhood, I was yelled at and beaten many times, usually multiple times a day, for many years. There was rarely a reason, and almost never a good one.
Being hit in the face because your brother is bored and tormenting you entertains him, or being screamed at for an hour because you didn’t finish your milk, teaches you how to handle this kind of violent anger.
You can’t reason with it, you can’t calm it down, you can’t run from it, you can’t yell back, and you can’t hit back, I’ve tried all of those and none of them work.
The only thing I’ve found to be effective is a piece of advice I learned from the Bible.
Proverbs 15:1 says “A soft answer turneth away wrath…”
So I told her that I was a Christian.
I calmly told her that I was a Christian, and an American, and her brother, and that I loved her, and that if she was hurting, and it was important to her that I march with her up to Trump Tower, that I was more than willing to make the trip with her and stay with her until she felt like someone in this country gave a shit about her.
And I could see on her face she suddenly realized what she was doing, and got very embarrassed, and quickly backed off. She said it didn’t matter to her one way or the other and if I needed to go grocery shopping, then I should just go.
And so Tanya and the rest of the protesters went on their way.
Now of course in that moment, I didn’t really mean what I said.
Tanya assaulted me and scared the shit out of me, but I knew she wasn’t the one talking to me, it was Fear and Anger. And as soon as I said what I said, she came back to herself, and grabbed her cross necklace, and that was that.
And then we were both just Americans, who loved our country, walking opposite directions on a Manhattan avenue.
Because a soft answer turneth away wrath.
And if more people would remember that then maybe we’d get rid of all of this Fear and Anger and get back to just being Americans.
Then maybe 2020 won’t be like 2016.
Or maybe not.