When trump was elected into office, I felt like many Americans did in that particular moment.
I felt saturated with both thick dread and hopelessness.
I was painfully reminded of just how far the individuals who adhere and contribute to the mindset of our institutionally racist society, whether they do so consciously or unconsciously, are willing to go in order to maintain the narrative of the connotated eliteness, virtuosity, and authority that encapsulates the very essence of white privilege culture in America. Millions, white and non-white, rallied behind trump in the name of stopping terrorism, bringing back more jobs to Working Class America, completely doing away with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), protecting our beloved and collectively “upstanding” law enforcement officers from hate crimes, and making America whit–*cough cough*…I mean, making America great again (Whatever the hell that means. No seriously, no one has fully explained to me what that phrase translates to.).
One of the main “perks” of being a beneficiary–a relatively short-term perk, I might add–of white privilege is that, when it comes their quality-of-life, in regards to how it’s influenced by the socioeconomical, political, cultural, and environmental factors associated with American living, they need only to worry about themselves and how those factors impact the people who look like them–tribalism.
The trump campaign was not oblivious to the millions who subscribed to maintaining this form of social dominance and influence nor was it by accident that they purposefully appealed this demographic, fully utilizing it to their benefit. Using the guise covert racism–and, at times, overt–trump’s campaign consistently incorporated charismatic rhetoric designed to appeal to the millions who were sick and tired of seeing “whiteness” as something that was becoming a lost concept, amongst our country’s growing diversity, the unified roar of racial equality groups demanding them to recognize their rights as Americans, and the immigrant population filling up our workforce–of not seeing our country continue to reflect the traditionalistic image of what it means to be that larger-than-life, big ol’, badass Unite’ State’ o’ ‘Murica, whom no other country would ever dare screw with.
They were tired of hearing “Black Lives Matter.” Because, if black lives mattered, then, that means they have to acknowledge the reality of another group of people coexisting with them in this country–a group that doesn’t look like them and who has experiences that differ from someone of the white experience. As long as their sons, fathers, and brothers weren’t disproportionately being gunned down by law enforcement, what in the world did that have to do with their way-of-life, and why should they feel the need to take a stance on it?
They were like, “Does my life not matter in this country? What about the hardships and struggles I’m going through? All lives matter, not just black people’s.”
They were tired of seeing BLM protests plastered all over the news where angry crowds denounced and passionately spoke out against police corruption–a message that didn’t sit well with them because it painted their romanticized image of the oh-so-holy, humble, and blameless law enforcement agencies in a bad light. They’d never had problems with cops, themselves, so how dare someone else demonize America’s hardworking officers.
They didn’t care about hearing how the socioeconomic disparities of black people, indeed, indirectly affected their own qualitiy-of-living and the integrity of America as whole negatively. They didn’t care about the systematic policy implementations that led to those disparities. To them, the only explanation for so many black people being poor, criminals, and not able to graduate school in this country was because they’re just naturally lazy, dumb, and evil. They said, “It’s their own damn fault, not ours. I’ve had to work hard for everything I have. Why should they get Affirmative Action and an unfair advantage over me? I’m the one really being discriminated against here!”
They were sick of hearing about issues like global warming and climate change. Those were issues that weren’t affecting their immediate situation and that the couldn’t do much about anyway, so why should they’ve cared.
They were more concerned with getting their old industrial jobs back. What was more important to them than the environment was to once again see their beloved and once-flourishing towns mirror that nostalgia-inducing, “house with the picket fence,” Leave It to Beaver-esque, “every-face-on-the-block-is-white,” image of what suburban America looked after World War 2. Because, that’s when America was truly “great.”
Their daddies and uncles worked in the factories for decades, and many of them followed in their footsteps. Them and their families were supposed to be guaranteed employment for generations to come. They were supposed to be set for life. All the company loyalty and years of dedication papa, Uncle Joe, and they had invested was supposed pay off in the form of a financial legacy they could pass to their heirs. They felt their entitlement was stolen from them.
“Obama’s over here talking about saving the environment. I don’t give a crap about none of that stuff. What I care about is getting my factory job back.” They felt forgotten and discarded by President Obama. They felt betrayed and unheard, and their frustrations festered.
Mainstream media, day-in-and-day-out, manufactured and propagated the stereotypical image of “what a Muslim looks like” and associated it with terrorism and the gruesome imagery of the scenery that ensued after isis’s attacks, even though isis and the taliban aren’t really Muslims to begin with. Stations like Fox and MSNBC constantly pushed a fear-mongering and Islamaphobic narrative, for the sake of shock value to boost ratings and to carry out political agenda. Because, when you have white privilege, any experiences and realities that aren’t the “white” experiences and realities are either judged as invalidly perceived by another group or just flat out don’t exist to you. Millions ate their spoonfed, fear-arousing rhetoric right up without taking the time to critically think about or thoroughly investigate the validity what was being broadcasted to them.
And, what did trump do? He boldly and unapologetically vowed to champion for the restoration of what so many people felt as though they’d lost and dead all of their fears, in an unprecedented and un-politically correct manner that no presidential candidate was willing to do.
He said he was going to build a wall on the Mexico/Texas border and make Mexico fund it.
How it appealed: He’s going to stop all these Mexicans from taking all our jobs that belong to us, and he’s going to deport of all their Spanish speaking butts back where they belong. This is ‘Murica. Speak English for crying out loud! And, I’m tired of seeing them brown faces crowding my neighborhood.
He said that global warming was a hoax and discredited all of the overwhelming evidence that suggested otherwise produced by NASA and the EPA, and he promised to revitalize the manufacturing and the oil and gas industry, appealing to the Rust Belt states, who were instrumental in helping him win the election.
How it appealed: All that “save the environment” crap is for tree-hugging sissies. Just give me my job back and let me drive my giant truck with the lift kit and dually tires and my tank-sized SUV. I don’t give a crap about saving some stupid birds and bugs. I’m a real man!
He essentially labeled the Black Lives Matter organization a hate group during his campaign by unfairly accusing them of calling for the execution of police officers, and he did so without even acknowledging the how police gun down unarmed black men at an unprecedented disproportionate rate in America nor without addressing the issue of mass incarceration.
How it appealed: I’m sick and tired of hearing black people complain about stuff. Slavery is over so just get over it already. Every civilization in history has had slaves. Even black people owned slaves in this country. You don’t see everyone else crying and moaning about it. And, how dare they demonize our beloved cops. They have no idea how hard of job cops have. donald trump is going to destroy all this “Black Lives Matter” crap, just you watch. Shoot, all lives matter!
He proposed creating a database to track all Muslims in America.
How it appealed: Good! We don’t need these rag heads running around blowing up stuff. We have to protect our country. We don’t want to end up like Paris, France or Brussles, Belgium. They need to be watched at all times. You just can’t trust ’em. We can’t let another 9/11 happen, by any means necessary. And, besides, I don’t want to hear or see all that Muslim stuff anyway. I’m a “christian.”
So many men and women, for the sake of maintaining the symbolistic doctrine of what it means to be an American, which is primarily tied into “whiteness,” were willing to overlook the countless misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic comments he’d made during his campaign–rhetoric and behavior that a person of color would have been crucified for. Bill Cosby/trump contrast, case in point.
The sobering reminder of how deeply embedded systematic racism is in our psyches and how it factors into so many of the choices we make–in this case, a political choice–was harshly issued to me and to so many others on 11/9/2016.
And, the reason I went so in depth about the primary mechanism that propelled trump to the presidency was because I want to make crystal-clear that this very driving force behind his ascension into power eventually does affect ALL OF AMERICAN SOCIETY in a detrimental way, not just black people. trump wouldn’t be in the position of power and influence he’s in now, to be a direct threat to a great deal of much the social progress that has taken place in America for the last several decades, without it–the reasons why so many groups are protesting his presidency.
Before I got to the bullet points that more closely tie into the title of this article, I really felt, as though, it was vitally necessary to properly depict to you a perfect example of how the mindsets, policy implementations, and customs of an institutionally racist society, America, will always spill over from the pool of the oppressed and poison the social progress on multiple fronts within that society.
What so many black leaders and activists and so many of us have been trying to tell white people for many years now–and, in response, we were told we were just playing the race card, making everything about race, that we wanted all cops dead, and that we were saying that all white people are bad–is that ignoring and not standing up against the ensuing injustices of systematic racism harms not only the group it targets but those who benefit from it in the relative short-term, in the long-run.
So, with all that being said and with you having a better idea of what was the catalyst for trump’s success in the election, we must accept that he, indeed, is the president. And, with the exception of impeachment, nothing is going to change that. What’s done is done, and he’s won, whether you and I like it or not.
So, the question then becomes, what are we going to do about it?
If you perceive trump as a direct threat to the progress of any social issue you’re passionate about–ethnic justice, environmentalism, Animal Rights movement, LGBT movement, Feminist movement–what are you going to do to stand up to the agenda of him and his administration?
Not only that, but, how are we going to keep making the progress on this issues that needed to be made before this administration came in office while, at the same time, protecting the progress that’s already been made on the fronts of those movements?
Once the initial shock wore off that someone so glaringly unqualified would be our Commander and Cheif for the next 4 years, I, like so many others, asked myself, “What is my place in all of this?” What could I do to make a difference?
How could I protect my family and friends from the impact of this administration?
I thought, sure I could go join a group and protest with them, but I know that protesting is only one small component in bringing about sustained social change, not the primary component.
Like many did, I wanted to get involved on some level, but where was I supposed to start? I scoured the internet combing through a slew Google-searched podcasts and articles authored by those who were already “fighting the good fight” in their own specialized ways to see if they shared any insight on how they got started with consistently supporting a cause. And, yet, I couldn’t really find anything that gave a specific outline on how to get the ball rolling.
Well, as my father, rest his soul, taught me a long time ago, nothing truly meaningful gets accomplished–graduating college, marriage, getting a career, raising a family, buying a house–in this world without you planning it out, first. So, before I felt I could go out and be the most effective at creating profound and long-lasting social change, I thought it would be best to create a plan of action for myself, to help give my mind a framework to build around and to help me focus and maximize my efforts.
And, while formulating that plan, it dawned on me that were probably others out there wondering just how in the world they could get started themselves.
And, so, if you are one of those people, I’ve decided to share the steps I was able to formulate and to elaborate on each on of them with you. It’s not a perfect plan, by any means, but at least it’s a start. We’ve all got to start somewhere when we’re trying to accomplish anything of real substance in this world. Hopefully, it can help you, whoever you are, in getting started in either joining an organization that’s dedicated to fighting for some type of social progress or in starting your own movement.
So, here goes:
1. Figure out which issues matter to you the most. Although, as I narrated earlier, even though I think white supremacy is the biggest threat to democracy in America–even bigger that isis–I know that everyone might not feel called to go and join or start an organization dedicated to addressing that. I do feel that it is everyone’s duty in America to unlearn the systematically racist customs and mindsets that have been ingrained in our psyches since youth. However, something like global warming or animal rights might speak to your heart more than advocating for the movement I’m passionate about.
The social issues this country faces are incredibly complex and require efforts on a number front within those movements themselves, so you don’t have enough time, resources, and energy to be advocating for every single issue out there. For example, the issues that speak to me the most are racism, environmental destruction, reading and writing illiteracy in my community (I started a writing club to collaborate with other creative minds in the community to address this.), and misogyny. Therefore, that is where the bulk of my efforts go.
It is up to you to take some time for yourself, to meditate, and to soul-search what issues mean the most to you. If you feel as though you can’t be fully be committed to a specific cause at a certain point-in-time in your life but you are still passionate about it, you can always donate a monthly contribution to that organization.
For instance, I’ve made it a bill for myself to give $20 a month to Eco-Justice. I love their cause, and, even though I can’t fully be invested in their efforts at this time, the least I can do is donate a few dollars to them every month.
EVERY DOLLAR goes a very long way!
And, I switched to a green plan with my electric company, by the way, as another effort to support the fight against climate changed. If you are wondering what organizations you can be a part of, here is a list of them for you.
2. Figure out how you can use your divine talents and capabilities to support a movement. Whether you’re a poet, good with math, a good public speaker, an excellent debater, a painter, a photographer, or even a sports player, you can use your unique skills to support any movement.
If you’re tech savvy, maybe your contribution is building and maintaining the website for the non-profit organization that’s making a difference in the issues you’re passionate about.
If you’re a photographer, maybe your contribution is shooting images for promotional items that raise awareness for the advocacy group you’re a part of.
To use myself as an example: My talent is writing, so I feel it’s my job to be the compiler and disseminator of information to the masses in regards to the issues I’m passionate about, so that people can have the proper knowledge to go out and make a difference in the world.
No matter what your skillset is, don’t think it can’t be utilized in your cause. God created all of us different because we are supposed to be dutiful in our own unique ways. NEVER SELL YOUR TALENTS SHORT!
3. Make sure you are right with yourself, mind, body, and soul, before you join/start a movement. It may not seem like it, but this probably the most important step on this list. If you don’t consistently take care of your mental and physical health, if you haven’t cut out toxic relationships from your life, if you’re financially irresponsible (it’s hard to support a movement when you’re constantly worried about how to the pay the bills), if you’ve been wounded by any personal life traumas (haven’t we all) and haven’t properly dealt with them emotionally, or if you’re at a place where you feel like you need to work on you before you start working on the rest of society, take the time to heal yourself, first and foremost.
Because, hurt people hurt. Some people use the platforms of righteous movements to spread the pain they haven’t dealt with to others, to promote their own hate and biases through the cause, or to passive-aggressively complain and moan to others, so they’ll join them in their fruitless pity party.
As the old saying goes, “You can’t be real with others until you’re real with yourself. Social progress is important, but so is your own well-being.
4. Become a student of humility to your cause. Immerse yourself in everything there is to know about the movement. Learn about all of the systematic factors that led to that issue your fighting for and the most effective way to create the structural change to address it.
Refine your news online news source to fact-based, unbias, and credible networks, community leaders, and responsible journalists–those who are experts in the field of your cause.
Please stop watching the evening news unless you like making yourself crazy. If you want the information that you can utilize to go out and help you make meaningful change, find the sources that will provide you with it. You might have to dig for them, but it’s definitely worth the investment of time.
Find local groups already doing the groundwork and who are already organized, but don’t be afraid to mobilize others in your community, yourself. You can accomplish this through social media sites like Facebook and MeetUp. The best way to enlighten/become enlightened is from face-to-face interactions with those who are passionate about your cause.
Learn, plan, and implement with your family, your friends, and those in your community.
Make your movement a way of life!
5. Mentally be ready for adversity and for being in the movement for the long haul. During the Civil Rights movement, before the individuals who participated in the Greensboro Sit-ins commence their demonstration, they mentally prepared themselves for the hostile environment they were about to enter. They literally did a number of worst case scenarios to train themselves how to remain composed and how to psychologically deal with the stress of the encounters they might face. It took them a while, but, eventually, they were successful in their demonstrations, because they prepared properly.
If you join or start and organization that is dedicated to standing up again some type of injustice, expect great opposition for doing so. There are going to be hostile situations that you will find yourself in (ex., Standing Rock).
You and your comrades should psychologically prepare each other for the worst of the worst that you may encounter, and, also, be each other’s emotional support group. Keeping each other motivated is crucial to sustaining the fight.
6. No matter which movement you choose to be a part of, the objectives of that movement need to be rooted in LOVE. If you or an organization you join chooses to support and advocate for a movement for any reason other than LOVE, for your community as a whole, and out of compassion for your global brother’s and sisters, then, I ask you, what are the motives?
I believe God created us as global brothers and sisters, to love, cherish, and appreciate one another. I love all of God’s children, even if they don’t love me back or have my best interests at heart.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in a being total passivist. I will defend what I care about, at all costs, and I know there are just some people in this world who cannot be reasoned with or loved into not wanting to continue wickedness and corruption.
Even though the injustices we face in our society are frustrating and infuriating, anger and hatred for the enemy can not sustain our efforts to bring about change for the betterment of our communities and our country as a whole.
Only the desire of wanting the best for not only ourselves but also for our global brothers and sisters is the only fuel that can maintain a movement’s momentum, for any movement to collectively influence the hearts and minds of those in our societies for the better.
In closing: Let’s make the duration of this presidency less about bashing and hating trump. In doing so, you give him and this administration energy and emotion they haven’t earned nor deserve.
Let’s not make these 4 years about bashing and hating anything.
As Talib Kweli said: “I know you up in this club. I know you don’t give what. You told me what you don’t like, you made that clear. Now, what do you love?”
Instead, let’s put the bulk of our collaboration and plan implementation in unifying, strengthening, empowering, and blessing our communities, so that they will be the kinds that produce righteous leaders and politicians, not ones like trump.