When I was seventeen years old and Barack Obama was first elected, I remember two prevailing thoughts. One was an incredible sense of pride, the perfect example of how hard-work, charisma, and timing can lead to an accomplishment we didn’t predict happening for another couple of decades. The second thought was that while having an African-American president at the highest level was great, we were still a long ways away from filling in the middle and bottom positions of influence.
I remember that second part especially now because it never seemed to happen the way we hoped it might. While we were able to proclaim the end of racism in a tongue-and-cheek manner, unfortunately a lot of America really took those jokes to heart. So over the next eight years, and as we continued to expose the evils of our society, the presence of a Black president played out to be a shield of ignorance for those people who are apathetic or dismissive of the plights for minorities in the country.
And now here we are, unmasked and exposed for the entire world to see. Any notion of a unified Post-Racial society has completely flown out of reasonable discussion. Our new President-Elect ran on a platform that tapped into fear, bigotry, misogyny, racism, islamophobia, homophobia, a general lack of decency, and a partridge in a pear tree. Yet, many people either supported these notions outright or passively ignored them over issues that mattered to them more personally.
For those of us affected by … any of those categories, we feel let down by the country as a whole. We’re told we don’t matter, and our concerns are not to be considered. But for a lot of us, we’ve felt this way for awhile, Welcome aboard, Rest-Of-America!
And without further ado here’s how we (apparently only just over half the country) get by:
- Be Perfect: Nothing quite like overzealous hatred for an exemplary, black family man without a single personal scandal over eight years, or the way an overly qualified female was passed over to really set in the idea that minorities and women have to be flat out better than their white, male counterparts to stand a chance. We’ll never be afforded the same margin of error, so slip-ups of any kind are totally off limits.
- Stick to Cities: The discrepancy between urban and rural voting really speak to a disconnect as it pertains to how different citizens feel they are being represented in American politics. It also speaks to large areas of the country that could care way less about human decency than desired. Proceed with caution in any area without a building higher than two-stories.
- Take Notice: Every poll predicting a landslide democratic victory in each of the three major components to the 2016 election failed for multiple reasons. One important reason is that the “silent majority” either withheld their beliefs or flat out lied about them. This underestimation is unfortunately apart of your daily lives. There is no longer such a concept as the benefit of the doubt. Anyone who “doesn’t care about politics” who “thinks both candidates were bad anyway” or were in anyway “undecided” when the two major candidates became clear, probably voted for Trump. That’s the new assumption that really has to be made. We live in a world that we as minorities have always knew to exist: These same people who smile in your face and act like your friends have an absolute disinterest leaning towards disdain for your personal wellbeing.
- Support One Another: The second part to identifying who doesn’t care about you is to acknowledge and appreciate those who do. You shouldn’t have to deal with these emotions alone and we each are responsible helping each other through these tough times. We can use this sadness as a great unifier and come together in ways we never thought to be possible. As we get ready to right our biggest threat to progression in some time, we’ll need to depend on one another for strength and innovation.
- Mourn Quickly, and Then Get to Work!: I believe it to be critically important when dealing with grief or trauma to fully explore all of the negative feelings first, and then slowly build yourself back up again. That way you don’t have to feel anything new, and you’re better prepared for the road to recovery. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, it’s been at least a few days since the election and you’re ready for the new phase of the movement: kickin’ ass. There exists a narrative that you don’t worry about anyone but yourselves and simply hope for the best. That doesn’t really apply for us. We need to be role models, we need to be active in our community, and we need to have a role in the changing dynamics of our new political systems. We’re at a critical pivot point for the two-party system as a whole. So as a result, we need to play a part in how these new systems develop, to ensure we’re properly represented and our concerns are met.
For you fellow fighters for social justice and the rights of all America’s people: Strap up, we’re in for a hell of a ride
“Never, Never, Never Give Up” — Winston Churchill