It is Day 3 since Donald Trump was announced president elect of the United States. This is the first time I write this in such clear terms. The last two days, I have been struggling to even mention his name next to that title. It’s all been vague, hypothetical, vacuous. Before that, it was a joke. ‘President Trump’ were not words I would put together because they were so outside the realm of possibility. And now I have to. How naive I was.
Despite my naïveté, I am not surprised at the outcome. I understand exactly how America was duped into voting for that man. Because America wasn’t duped – it willingly walked into and allowed itself to be swallowed whole by the nightmare of a Trump presidency. Because to the millions of Americans who allowed him to win, a Trump presidency is not a nightmare; it is a guarantee that they may continue to live in the basic safety afforded to them by their whiteness.
I am not concerned with the argument being made that he gained these votes for being “anti-establishment”, for being the antithesis of Hillary Clinton and American politics, for his win being “not about race”. Because that argument only works for people who were not affected by the vitriol he spewed throughout his election campaign – racist, sexist, islamophobic vitriol that served as the blanket in which he wrapped his “anti-establishment, pro-working class” bullshit. In that vein, I am not concerned with the pockets of minorities who gave him their vote; I can’t explain their choice, can’t justify it, and thankfully don’t have to do either.
Nor am I concerned with the “approachability” or “business savvy” that he touted and that was lapped up by white working class Americans. Because they had this entire campaign (and his work history) to see him for the fraud that he is: a born-rich billionaire with a skewed sense of business who made and kept his money by swindling the State and the working class Americans he claims to support. He is a walking contradiction of what he alleges to uphold, devoid of the very skills he claimed would make him best fit for the job, and people looked past all that and granted him a seat in the Oval Office.
I’m not even concerned with the overwhelming number of his followers who subscribe to and proudly tote his sweeping brand of bigotry, and I’m certainly not concerned with “white moderates” who are shocked that so many of their skinmates could think, feel and act this way. Because to quote Evelyn from the Internets: “Do you not know where you reside? Do you know not what your country stands for?” This shit ain’t new – it’s just new to you.
What I am concerned about is the fact that what little safety was afforded to me – a black African Muslim woman, an American citizen, a daughter of Sudanese immigrants – is now gone. Because how can I feel safe when my country elected a man who doesn’t believe in my right to identify and proudly be an American? How can I feel safe when every single aspect of me has been labeled either threat or conquest by the same man I am now asked to respect and support as my leader? How can I feel safe when that very same leader’s rhetoric is the reason why so many of my compatriots now feel encouraged and empowered to show me and people like me in no uncertain terms how little they value us – no, how much they hate us.
As I write, for the first time in my life, I am concerned about the consequences of posting this. I’m worried about how I will be treated for making these words public. I wonder if I will be given the same right and freedom to express as my white counterparts. The irony of fearing my opinion as an American when I live that fear every day as a Sudanese is not lost on me, and I am now consumed with laughter.
In a larger sense, I am concerned about white supremacy. Someone on my Twitter timeline called the Trump win “the last stand of white supremacy”. I don’t know what that means, but I do know that Trump winning means we can finally dislodge the term “post-racial America” from our throats after being force-fed it for 8 years. As incidents of racially driven violence erupt in different parts of the country following the election results, it’s clear that racism is not only alive, but literally kicking. And though we may no longer be forced to live in the illusion that America is a seamless melting pot, I am concerned that as the people Trump demonized and stepped on to get his position – the people our white compatriots sacrificed to “make America great again” – as always, we will be the ones to bear the blows of what is to come. Many argue that now that he has secured the presidency, Trump will have no choice but to “tone it down”, to become a tamer, more diplomatic version of the leader he portrayed himself to be during his campaign. But what does that matter when he’s already paved the way for every repressed bigot to unleash their pent-up hatred, and armed them with the catchphrases to go with it?
Since the announcement, citizens across the US have taken to the streets to protest their new president. The irony is not lost on me, and I am once again consumed with laughter.
This piece was originally published on Elephant Media’s The Tusk blog under the title, “A Sudanese-American Digests Trump’s Presidential Election”