Flesh on the Ground in the Trump Era

Meet us at Rock Creek Park at noon every day until Trump is gone


If you grew up in New York City in the 1980s, avoiding the orange phenomenon known as Donald Trump was damn near impossible. He was everywhere, attending parties and premiers, dating fashion models. His first mention in the mainstream media ever was a 1973 story in the New York Times about how he was being sued for housing discrimination. Much like the gaudy, decadent TV show Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous, Donald Trump represented every stereotype the poor and working class masses had about rich people in the 80s. That spoiled, entitled, hyper-violent, sexist villain seen in so many 80s teen comedies? Donald Trump was a father figure to that caricature. And it was fine, because as long as all he was doing was making sure poor New Yorkers of color had a hard time living in his buildings, he was tolerated. Scratch that, he was celebrated. Donald Trump, son of a billionaire slumlord and Ku Klux Klan supporter, was seen as a symbol of the American Dream, the physical embodiment of wealth itself.

So when Donald Trump put out a full page ad in the New York Post demanding that the Central Park Five, black teenagers who were later exonerated by DNA testing, and set free, should be given the death penalty for a crime they had yet to be found guilty of, it was dismissed by mainstream media as Trump just being Trump. When reports began to surface about Donald Trump saying things like “laziness is a trait in the blacks” and “the only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day,” they were dismissed as Trump just being Trump.

Personally, I always recognized Donald Trump’s racist dog whistles. I would cringe whenever my favorite rappers would mention him in lyrics as a symbol of opulence. When he began doing reality TV, while overseeing failed business venture after failed business venture, while declaring bankruptcy four times, Trump began to make more sense to me. He was a clown, a court jester, an empty suit. I was fine with letting him pretend to be the boss, fake firing people on TV. Donald Trump’s tangible effect on my life wasn’t realized by me until he was triggered by the election of the first black president in United States history, Barack Hussein Obama.

And triggered he was. There was something about Obama that just didn’t sit right with Donald Trump, and being a famous white man he was given an incredible platform to speak on this at length on Fox News, often. As the world’s most famous birther, Donald Trump went out of his way to normalize the very racist lie that Obama was not born in America. According to Trump, Obama had to be lying. He offered no proof of this, other than Obama seemed foreign to his sensibilities. If you grew up the son of a billionaire Ku Klux Klan supporter, you were promised a world in which no black man would ever have authority over you. Barack Obama’s mere existence destroyed Donald Trump’s world, and so he made disparaging Obama his main focus.

Dedicating his life to destroying Obama’s credibility made Donald Trump a darling of the far right and the Tea Party. The party of no now had a celebrity spokesman, one who was fun to watch whether he made sense or not. And as long as Trump was anti Obama, it didn’t matter whether he aligned with so called conservative Christian values. Being anti Obama was all that was needed to elevate Trump from reality TV show star to serious GOP presidential contender.

Like many left leaning progressives, I was naive to how much of a shot Donald Trump truly had. As a working artist, I’m blessed to travel the world seeing humanity at its very best. The people who come to my shows are compassionate, intelligent and they stand for justice. I am blessed to choose who I want to work with and be around. My friends who aren’t artists for a living don’t have this luxury. They are forced to commute daily to jobs that help some boss get richer than them while working around people they may not even like. These people had a more realistic view of Trump’s chances. My friend Seth Byrd, a plumber by trade, told me Trump had the election in the bag. I bet him a dollar Trump would lose. I still owe him that dollar.

When Trump started his campaign by saying Mexicans are rapists and kicking Mexican reporters out of his press conferences, he was exhibiting the same behavior I saw him exhibiting when he demonized the Central Park Five. When he bullied Elizabeth Warren with that Pocahontas slur and disrespected Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star mother, I saw the same misogynist who had been famously busting into girls dressing rooms unannounced at his pageants for years. Despite this sordid history, the GOP handed Donald Trump the nomination. Soon after, Trump would hire the executive chair of Breitbart News Inc as his campaign manager. Steve Bannon is notorious for his advocacy of white supremacy. He is on record publicly advocating for white nationalism over and over again. He is anti-diversity, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. He has been accused of saying he didn’t want his children to attend school with “whiny jews.’ So when Donald Trump himself RT’d neo nazi accounts over 75 times during his campaign and then hired an admitted white nationalist to run said campaign, that wasn’t just coincidence.

Even if people missed Steve Bannon’s love of white supremacy, it was impossible to miss how Breitbart.com became a Trump cheerleading site while they weren’t printing stories about how “Gays Need to Get Back In The Closet,” “Renegade Jews,” “How Birth Control Makes Women Crazy” and how the confederate flag has a “Proud And Glorious Heritage.” This is not hyperbole, these are actual Breitbart headlines. Between Breitbart.com and its louder, dumber cousin Info Wars, ran by Alex Jones, Trump had the only news outlets he needed. It didn’t matter that Info Wars posted stories about Obama being a demon who smelled of sulfur and hard-hitting pieces about how the Sandy Hook massacre was staged. As long as they said good things about Trump, he considered them his primary sources of info. Everything else was ironically dumbed fake news. By using his Twitter account to spread the lies he read on Breitbart and Info Wars, Trump effectively reached his core base without having to deal with the fact checkers and investigative journalists who would call him on his bullshit. While we went high and ignored the trolls as they went low, they used Twitter and Facebook to spread enough lies to help win Trump the election. Especially the Russian sock accounts. America elected a troll for president.

By the time the tape surfaced of Trump bragging about sexual assault, I had learned my lesson. Trump’s base would support him no matter what he said or did, and his base was a very vocal minority that chose social media as their venue while mainstream media was busy patting itself on the back. I could no longer afford to dismiss Trump as a joke. The man was caught on tape saying he gets to “grab them by the pussy” without permission because he’s a star, and it somehow made him more popular with his core, family values supporters. These people would clearly do whatever it took to win this election, even if it meant contradicting everything they claimed to stand for. Racist white people in America knew that making the most famous birther in the world president would be the ultimate fuck you to Obama. They relished the thought of electing Trump to stick it to the nigger president with unabashed glee.

There are those who say that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are at least as bad, maybe worse, than Donald Trump. There are Bernie Sanders supporters who began to support Trump after Bernie lost the primary. Fact is, every presidential candidate who has ever had a real shot at the presidency has been an imperialist, because America has always used imperialism to support its interests around the world. So yes, Obama utilized the very immoral drone program more than any President and deported many immigrants. Yes, Hillary Clinton supported, than later apologized for her support of, mass incarceration policies. However, these politicians, including Bernie Sanders, respected the system of checks and balances that keep our country from descending into dictatorship.

When I see former GOP president George Bush — who I could’ve sworn was the most evil president we’d ever seen until Trump — also challenge Trump’s knack for fascist rhetoric, I know it’s not just my lefty bias that is making me see Trump as a far worse existential threat to democracy than any American “politician” that has come before him. Many say that Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the DNC nomination. What Bernie Sanders himself said was that he would campaign for and support Hillary Clinton for president, because he acknowledged where we were, not where he wanted us to be. Did Sanders want to be the nominee? Of course. Did he deserve to be the nominee over Hillary? Quite possibly. But he wasn’t. Blame that on money in politics and the 2 party system. But in the meantime, Bernie knew that the work to stop Trump still needed to be done. He knew that Hillary Clinton was the only politician with a chance to defeat Trump. Sadly, many of Bernie’s supporters only supported Bernie as long as they thought Bernie could be president. Once Sanders didn’t get the nomination, they were all too willing to hand Trump the presidency out of spite for Hillary Clinton, which was the exact opposite of Bernie’s messaging post primaries.

I have always hesitated to compare Trump to Hitler. It can come off as petty and dramatic and undermine otherwise sound arguments to jump to Hitler comparisons. However, Donald Trump has without a doubt consistently displayed the traits of a narcissistic fascist who doesn’t understand the difference between president of a democracy that has governmental checks and balances and a dictator. When I saw his first unhinged press conference, in which he disrespected a black journalist, silenced a Jewish journalist, and told bold faced, very unnecessary lies about the margin of his victory over Hillary Clinton, I knew I was watching a Hitler moment. It wasn’t good enough that Trump won the election, he very badly needed us to believe that he won bigger than anyone in history. This is so far from being true it’s amazing that he even fixed his lips to trot this lie out, but lie he did. Bigly.

When challenged on this lie by a journalist from NBC, Trump’s response amounted to “well thats what I had heard, so...” When no other journalist pressed the issue, when Trump was simply allowed to tell lies to the American people from that podium, when Trump was allowed to say that the buck shouldn’t stop with him as president, I knew we were in bigger trouble than I thought. The politicians, Hillary, Bernie, they failed to stop Trump. The journalists are now failing to correct Trump and hold him accountable. The media has completely failed us.

The right-wing media insisted for almost weeks that Hillary Clinton was under criminal investigation over emails, when she wasn’t. Obama was criticized for everything from asking about the price of arugula during a campaign stop to mentioning that his blackness helped him relate to Trayvon Martin. GOP congressman Joe Wilson literally yelled “liar” at Obama during a speech, while Obama was the president. The double standard that is applied to Trump is unacceptable. Donald Trump built his political career on a racist lie about Obama being born in Kenya. Why is nobody yelling “liar” at Trump? If the politicians and the media refuse to hold the Trump administration accountable, the people have no choice but to.

How do we fight back? We show solidarity with marginalized groups that will be further marginalized in Trump’s America. We stand with the family of Ben Keita, a black American Muslim who was lynched in Seattle. We stand with the families of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, the Indian men shot by a white supremacist in Kansas. We show solidarity with the women who marched on Washington during 2017’s historic women’s march. We show solidarity with Jewish people whose communities and cemeteries are currently under attack by white supremacists. We stand with the Native Americans who are protecting Standing Rock from the DAPL pipeline. We say no to mass incarceration. We say no to the over policing that leads to over criminalization of communities of color. We say no the the travel ban, we say no to the wall, we say no to Donald Trump, loudly and often.

These are the reasons I decided to show up in Washington on Monday, March 6th. I was inspired by the Green Revolution, by Occupy Wall Street, by the Ferguson Uprising. Hashtags and RTs are cute and make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but without actual flesh on the ground, there is no movement. Many working class people say that they do not have the luxury to take time away from their lives to resist Trump, but we are now at the point where we don’t have the luxury not to. So I will do what you can’t.

As an artist and my own boss, I can determine my schedule easier than someone who has a boss. So I will put my flesh in these streets as much as I can. I don’t know what this is about to be, as I have never done anything like this before. But I can’t just sit around and do nothing. I am not rich, I still have to work for a living, and I still will. But when I’m not getting that bag, I will be in these streets showing solidarity for as long as I can be. I pray that you will join me if you can. Peace and revolutionary love to all.

Meet us at Rock Creek Park, 24th and P St NW, Washington D.C., at noon, today and every day until Trump is gone. We will demand that the House Of Representatives begin the impeachment process of Donald Trump, staring with his violation of the Emolument clause, a release of his tax returns and a call for an independent bipartisan investigation into the Donald Trump’s Russian connections.