Staying ‘Woke’ in the Era of Trump.
The folks who cast a ballot for Donald Trump are not to blame for the results of this year’s presidential election.
Their fears are to blame, and this is what their fears looks like:
It is the fear of letting a woman, in all her divine feminine glory, run this country.
It is the fear of all the others — the blacks, the Muslims, the undocumented, the refugees.
It is the fear of increased poverty, teetering on the lower end of economic disparity.
It is the fear of not being heard or accepted — no one has ever quite articulated the unspoken truths of hidden voters as articulately as Donald Trump.
Our country revealed its true colors on election night, colors as bright as the sea of red in the electoral map above — as bright as the blood pouring out of the bodies of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling when they were murdered this summer. Just like our reactions to their deaths, we are all shocked, dismayed, and horrified that close to half of the population voted for Donald Trump. Just like Maya Angelou once famously said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
As an African American, and a woman, I am scared as hell.
But I am not surprised by the outcome of this election; we have been telling the world for centuries that white supremacy pervades our institutions and governing systems.
There are many people out there who are afraid, grieving in communities, protesting in the streets, organizing with force, and I can’t help but think this election was exactly what needed to happen in our country, so that we might finally get woke to the realities under which we currently live (because the killings of black men on social media still hadn’t sunk in).
Hillary Clinton was often viewed as the lesser of two evils because, well, she frankly was not evil enough. Our new president-elect, however, is just the kind of necessary evil needed to move past reforms in the form of a stymying status quo, to a historically revolutionizing movement. It is about damn time.
With a history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, Civil Rights activism, and terroristic lynchings, there are people who still deny racism exists. Women are unable to be ordained as priests in the Catholic church, get blamed for being raped, are forced to spend up to 90 minutes debating a misogynist, and there are people who still deny we live in a patriarchal society. “Look how far we have come,” they say. “We have made a lot of progress,” they say.
Fast forward to January 20th, 2017, and Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.
Progress has been made, absolutely, I agree. I am grateful to my foremothers Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, and Harriet Tubman who paved the way for me — for all of us, really. But we are still not there yet. Sit-ins, demonstrations, protests, prayer circles, organizing — this is all good, yes! But it will not do the trick entirely.
We need surgery, people. Band-Aids alone will not keep this country from hemorrhaging.
All the love in the world won’t heal — can’t heal — if we do not examine our own deeply ingrained wounds that are festering. That, in and of itself, is love.
Wound is such a powerful word. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: a wound is an injury to the body (as from violence, accident, or surgery) that typically involves laceration or breaking of a membrane (as the skin) and usually damage to underlying tissue. Kind of like how the forced trade and enslavement of my ancestors impacts the African American community today — a wound that is often referred to as internalized oppression.
Or how the forced migration of Native Americans still rages with fury in the blood of our wounded Water Protectors in the Dakotas. Or how homosexuals were blamed for the wounds caused by the AIDS epidemic in the late 70’s, early 80’s, and thus persecuted, still, for their sexual identities today. Or how white Americans too often refuse to acknowledge their white privilege, because that would make them complicit in the actions of their slave-owning ancestors — a wound I often refer to as generational shame.
Wound is such a powerful word. Interestingly enough, our wounds are what we all have in common.
We use the word wound a lot in the modern world of self-help and spiritual retreats. So much so that it is possible that we have grown accustomed to our wounds; they enable us to be blissfully unaware of the ways in which we inflict harm on ourselves, and each other.
We have made excuses not to hold any accountability for individual and collective wounds, because it is way too inconvenient; “I can’t be a racist because I have a ton of black friends,” said one of my white friends.
We can’t even hold other people accountable for the wounds they inflict; “A prison sentence will have a severe impact on him,” said Judge Aaron Persky about Brock Turner, the 20-year-old Stanford student convicted of intent to commit rape of an intoxicated and unconscious person.
We are all in a state of shock from the election results because our complicity in the wounds we harbor, and at the same time deny, has been brought home to roost.
It is safe to say that we — this country — are begging to finally be healed. We can no longer ignore our fears and the fears of others; shit just got real, for real.
If we continue to blame James Comey, running around saying “Not me, not me,” things will indeed get worse during and after these next four years. To be fully healed will not be an easy journey either.
Like Emma Lindsay said in her essay, Why I am Skeptical of White Liberals in the Black Lives Matter Movement:
“Racial equality will require a deep restructuring of a society that is founded on slavery. Gender equality will require a deep restructuring of a society that is founded on patriarchy.”
Equality in all forms requires a deep restructuring of everything, from the laws and policies that govern our country, to the values and moral codes that govern our personal lives.
Go ahead and grieve — this is a sad time for us all. While you are at it, do some serious self-reflection too. Become aware of your biases.
Do not talk the talk if you cannot walk the walk — our children are at stake.
Unless you are ready to sit in this collective discomfort, and possibly have your quality of life disrupted (maybe permanently) so that all folks can be fed, don’t try to assure me of your support for the cause.
To my white sisters and brothers, I understand that some of you are upset to have had your whole perspective on America the Great traumatically usurped. But this is not solely about you and your anger at being deceived.
To the men out there, if any of you do not value women — I mean, truly value and respect our divine gifts of intuition, our ability to lead and create life, and our inherent worth as creatures once revered and worshiped and deified — then you are not on my side.
Revolution demands that we all go there, making the commitment to wholly insert ourselves.
This is where true healing begins. This is what it means to stay woke in the era of Trump.