I am not surprised, in shock, or disappointed. The 2016 election unfolded the way I thought it would. Donald Trump: real estate mogul, reality television personality, bigot of all things not white, and possible sexual abuser has won the presidency of the United States. It’s weird; even as I type this, it is weird. In what land can you spout economic inaccuracies, hurl racial insults at large groups of people, cheer on Black protestors being assaulted at his rallies, make light of womens’ health issues and ascend to the highest position in politics? Tell me one country that would allow this to happen? Only in America.
When Trump announced his campaign, I shrugged it off as another ploy to gain publicity. For me, Trump has always been this clownish media whore who would do anything for camera time. Any headline was a good one, any picture was a good one, and there was no such thing as a bad story. Trump played his brashness into a media personality who was seen as a shrewd and brilliant businessman. He sold clothes under the brand “Donald J Trump”, wrote books motivating people to “Get Rich”, and opened schools such as Trump University that taught students strategies on how to acquire wealth, even though the founder was born into it. Later, he would become the star of his own television show, “The Apprentice”; one of the first reality competition programs that pitted up and coming business people against each other for a chance to learn from Trump. The Apprentice was garbage TV at its finest. People tuned in to see who would be eliminated and hear Trump utter the now famous words, “You’re fired.” In 2011, he laid the seeds of his presidential campaign by accusing President Barack Obama of not being born in America, thus becoming the face of the birther campaign. Three years later, Trump increased his racist rhetoric targeting Mexicans for being drug carriers and vowed to build a wall separating their country from the United States, calling to bar Muslims from entering America, and labeling Black Lives Matter, the activist group calling for police accountability, “Troublemakers.” With his white supremacist-tinged speeches filling arenas, Trump tapped into the nationalist thought that is white America. “Make America Great Again” was code for “Make America White Again.” A new superhero appeared who was an unrefined racist that appealed to people tired of political correct speak. Trump quickly became the Republican front runner, much to many conservatives dismay. Only in America.
To understand how the Republicans reluctantly hitched their ride onto the victory train that is Trump, you only need to watch “The Dark Knight.” Christopher Nolan’s 2008 masterpiece of good vs. evil, The Dark Knight posed a question of “If pushed far enough, will morality crumble?” In one of the more crucial scenes in the film, Bruce Wayne, played excellently by Christian Bale, discussed the recent crime wave of the Joker with Michael Caine’s Alfred. “They crossed the line,” Wayne had told Alfred. Disagreeing, Alfred responded with, “You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.” I think about that exchange between Wayne and Alfred when I watch interviews of Republican leaders un-enthusiastically throwing their support behind Trump. When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he ushered in a new era in politics. A Black man had become the most powerful person in the world. Republicans could not wait to unseat him. RNC Chair Mitch McConnoll said his mission was to make sure Obama was a “one term president.” In 2012, Obama handily beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney and the RNC was crumbling. No politician had the rock star status that Obama had. Leading up to the 2016 Republican Primaries, no candidate stood out; they were all a bunch of stuffy, boring, and dry white men. It looked to be another four to eight years of Democratic presidency until Trump came along. Desperately, the Republicans threw their lot behind a man that had offended nearly everyone in the nation. Only in America.
It didn’t hurt that the DNC had such a weak candidate themselves. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was cold, stiff, and unable to connect with the average person. Looked at as shady and inconsistent who was in the pocket of Wall Street, voters, particularly the young, dismissed Clinton in favor of the magnetic Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator, Sanders was a Democratic socialist who espoused free college, the legalization of marijuana, ending the wars in Iraq, and who openly desired to work with Black Lives Matter to fight rampant police terrorism. Sanders boasted a street cred of marching with Civil Rights workers in the 60’s, gaining endorsements from Atlanta revolutionary rapper Killer Mike, and seemed at ease speaking with the youth in the inner cities as well as working with long time Democrats. Sanders possessed an authenticity that Clinton could never have, and people knew that. Gaffs such as comparing Clinton to your Abuela and videos of her coldly interacting with young Black protestors haunted her image. And of course, the email server and the thousands of email messages were constantly bandied about to damage her credibility as someone who was not honest. However, through the backdoor dealings of the DNC’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and CNN correspondent Donna Brazille, the familiarity of the Clinton name, possible voter suppression, and millions of dollars from corporate donors, Clinton “won” the Democratic nomination. Feeling as if they were cheated, many people decided not to support the nominee, but that did not stop Clinton. She appeared on Ellen dancing the latest moves, taking pictures with Pharrell Williams, holding concert rally’s with Jay-Z and Beyonce, and vowing to push the country forward on President Barack Obama’s ideals. Clinton destroyed Trump in the televised debates, making compelling arguments for her policies in press conferences, and vowed to work with everyone across the aisle. Hillary Clinton was becoming “presidential” while her opponent Donald Trump looked like the most vile sex abuser on the planet. Audio surfaced of Trump bragging to Ryan Locte-apologist Billy Bush about “Grabbing women by the pussy.” Trumps approval ratings tanked. There was no way he would get elected. During a podcast discussion, I was asked if Trump was done after the audio. “Absolutely, “I said. “There is no way any woman would vote for him after this.” Boy was I wrong. Only in America.
On Tuesday night I decided to attend an election watch party. As I walked in, the mood was somber. I grabbed a beer and watched the results. When Trump won Ohio, I chuckled. Not because it was funny, but because it was totally ridiculous. My friend Matt texted me saying, “Oh my God, he may win this.” After North Carolina was called, I shook my head and thought, “Really? This is happening?” Later my partner Michelle confirmed it for me: Donald J Trump was our next president. How. In. The. Hell? This guy is a racist, homophobic, sexist creep! Only in America.
In my opinion, the 2016 election was about race. The tons of editorials decrying Trump as an unfit, immoral candidate went unread. Political rallies with Lena Dunham and Melissa McCarthy went unnoticed. None of that mattered. When people saw Trump, they immediately thought race and wanted to distance the country from everything that Barack Obama represented in the last eight years. The fact that 63% of white men and 53% of white women voters selected Donald Trump tells me that white people see themselves as white first, and are more comfortable with a white man. Forget the audio tape bragging of sexual assault, the menstrual comments to Fox’s Megyn Kelly, and the fat shaming of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the majority of the white women voters in America put their race first. This is a concept that many non-white people, particularly Black people, have not been able to understand. We want to use all of these identities to segment our population, but when the rubber hits the road, I believe you are your race. I also believe that by voting for a man who has made dangerous comments about gender and race, many white women don’t actually believe in building alliances with women of other races and cultures. After this election, the whole “sisterhood” is a bunch of crap in my opinion. Only in America.
If there is any good that can come from the election of Donald Trump, it is that Black and other non-white people now have a reality check about racism in America. Too many Black people thought that racism was on its way out with the election of President Obama. You can date a white girl, go to the Drake concert with your white friend, attend multi-ethnic protests, live in an all-white neighborhood and everything is good right? Nah, absolutely not. I am not saying that Trump brought back racism; it has always been there. I am of the belief that racism is near permanent and not going anywhere. Trump is simply a guy who understood that and ran with it. We as non-white people have to get real about racism in America. Expect it to happen. When a white person says or does something racist, don’t act surprised. We live in a system of racism/white supremacy, racist acts are supposed to happen! When we begin to start using logic, then we can then start coming up with solutions on how to beat it. We need to reject terms like Implicit Bias, White Fragility, and White Privilege. These cute phrases are designed to undermine the damage white supremacy inflicts, and do not tackle the real problem. White Privilege, White Fragility, and Implicit Bias does not address unarmed Black men being shot by police, inadequate educational opportunities, and salary discrepancies between white people and people of color. White people, it is time for reflection. Why did so many of your people decide to vote for an upfront bigot? You all have to look inside yourselves and figure out why you constantly practice racism and/or remain silent when it happens. Only in America.
A Donald Trump presidency for me is a fearful uncertainty. I am not afraid for myself. As the rapper Mos Def said, “Black people are under constant pressure.” We are being killed while unarmed by the police on camera, while they get off scot free, so I wonder if it can get worse. However, that thought comes from being an older Black man and knowing how to maneuver through the world. I do worry for the youth though. I have been reading reports of Black, Latino, and people of Middle Eastern descent being terrorized verbally and physically since Trump was elected. I have voiced concern for my partner’s safety, who is Latina, and we decided to upgrade her pepper spray to a taser for protection. I am also concerned about Planned Parenthood being defunded and that homophobic maniac, Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s ideas about dismantling the LGBTQ community’s right to marry. Those issues concern me. But, we have to wait and see what President-Elect Trump will do. It feels weird typing that again and I don’t think it ever won’t. Only in America.