2008 was probably the dopest year of my existence. I graduated high school, began my freshman year at THEE greatest HBCU on the planet, and voted for the very first time in the most historic election ever. On November 4, 2008, I gathered with my peers in the Howard University student center to witness history unfold in one priceless moment: Barack Hussein Obama was announced as the first Black president-elect of the United States of America.
I cried. I screamed. I hugged anyone within arm’s reach. I proudly chanted along to the nostalgic anthem, “My President,” which blasted repeatedly as hundreds of us marched the late-night DC streets to the White House. I was so proud. Proud not only to be Black, but proud to be a Black American. Proud to be a part of an era that my ancestors relentlessly fought and died for. Proud to have played a role in what seemed like a massive step forward for this country. Then in 2012, it happened all over again. Life was too lit to be true — until now.
It’s been almost a week since Election Day and the result still seems like a punchline from an SNL skit: Donald John Trump is the 45th president-elect of the United States of America. A billionaire reality TV show star who has made countless inflammatory statements throughout his campaign — statements that have ignited a spirit of hate and divisiveness towards every marginalized group in this country — will be the next Leader of the Free World. The irony alone makes me sick to my stomach.
But what’s scarier than Trump’s elected presidency is the overwhelming amount of chaos I’ve witnessed on social media as a result of it. Hillary supporters vs. Trump supporters. Voters vs. Non-voters. Blacks vs. Whites. Religious vs. Non-religious. Sleep vs. Woke. Detroit vs. Everybody (had to throw that one in there lol). The point is, so many of us are too wrapped up in our own feelings and opinions to pick and choose our battles wisely (Proverbs 26:4) and make sound decisions.
A number of my peers decided not to participate in this election because they didn’t like either of the candidates. And while I don’t necessarily agree with their decision, I somewhat understand why they did it. The very first president we voted into office was literally the face of change for America. In addition to being Black, he was cool, genuine, intelligent, relatable AND likable. So when people couldn’t find any of these characteristics in Clinton or Trump, they based their decision not to vote on that. One person told me that he actually agreed with a lot of Clinton’s policies, but his moral compass wouldn’t allow him to vote for her. And that’s simply because for the past eight years, we’ve been blindsided by likability. I think we’ve become so accustomed to liking who we vote for that many of us don’t know how to separate our personal feelings from the reality of politics.
But it is what it is. Whether you voted for Trump, Hillary, a third party, or not at all, Donald J. Trump is the next president of the United States. For some, it’s a victory. For others, it’s a living nightmare. In the last week, hijabs have been snatched off the heads of Muslim women. Black people have been called “nigger” to their faces. People of Mexican descent have been harassed and told they’re going to be deported. Little girls have been violated by little boys, who now believe they have a right to touch a woman’s body because Donald Trump did it. Property has been vandalized. Lives have been threatened. People are fueled with hatred. All in the name of our newly elected president.
So what do we do now? Continue to voice our fears and frustrations on Facebook? Unfriend and block everyone whom we can’t agree with? Do we pray? Protest? Try to pretend like none of this is really happening? Each of us has our own way of dealing with things, and that’s okay. But in order to effectively move forward, at some point we’re gonna have to face reality. Listen and engage in meaningful discussion. Ask questions. Share perspectives. Become more active in our local communities. Tune out the media. Learn how this political system actually works. Start saving up your coins. And stop pretending that White supremacy and racism don’t exist.
Because at this point, there’s only so much ranting, arguing, unfriending and blocking we can do.