And so, the so-called “unthinkable” has happened. Donald Trump, the racist, sexist, xenophobic candidate of the Republican alt-right, has been elected President of the United States.
Across social media, white anti-Trumpers are expressing shock and disbelief, unable to recognize the America they thought they knew.
Well, wake up. This is the America people of color have always known. This is the America that has always existed.
Patton Oswalt received thousands of retweets on Tuesday for observing:
He is wrong.
America is deeply sexist, but comparing the role of sexism to the role of racism in Trump’s election is comparing apples to oranges, and far too simplistic. After all, 45 percent of college-educated white women also voted for Trump. When asked whether Trump’s win was solely about people not wanting a woman in the role of president, news pundit Danielle Moodie-Mills nailed the underlying factor:
“This is so much bigger than that, this is about... This is literally white supremacy’s last stand in America,” Moodie-Mills explained.
“This is hatred on a level that that we have not seen since Jim Crow... We underestimated as Americans how deep out hatred was of the ‘other,’ how deep white uneducated Americans felt about the demographic shift. We underestimated that level of insidious hatred.”
The election of Donald Trump is painfully consistent with how America historically has reacted to the racial tide turning in the past. From the 13th Amendment, the seeds of mass incarceration were sewn. The hope of Reconstruction gave way to Jim Crow. The first black president has given way to Donald Trump.
Now is not the time for mourning ― it’s time for action.
It’s no surprise that after President Barack Obama comes a president who has whipped up a frothy storm of hatred and bigotry over the last 18 months, a man who has been enthusiastically endorsed by self-professed white supremacists. This is democracy at work. Democracy, after all, is about representation. Trump’s election is a stark representation of a country that hates black people, that hates undocumented immigrants, that hates Muslims and Jews.
Trump’s campaign has exposed us to some ugly truths about America’s hatred of the other, unleashing a thundering tide of bigotry, racism, and xenophobia that is thoroughly unapologetic. And just as dangerous as the unapologetic racists, if not more so, are the white Americans so steeped in racism that they mistake bigotry for patriotism. “Make America Great Again,” they say. “We’re taking back our country,” they say. They make up more of the fabric of this country than anyone has been willing to admit, and Tuesday night, they made themselves heard.
Today, so many Americans are in mourning. They are mourning the death of the dream of “hope” sold to them by Obama’s historic election. They are mourning the death of American goodness. But now is not the time for mourning ― it’s time for action.
This win may be a further validation of racist thinking in America, but it isn’t its creation. It’s been so easy for white liberals to turn a blind eye to the deep-seated nature of racism in the past ― especially after eight years of being able to cling to their vote for a black president. But Tuesday was a wake up call, a stark reminder that there is more for you to do. It will be the job of those Americans who do not agree with Trump and his surrogates, now more than ever, to combat the deluge of bigotry that’s been left in the wake of his ridiculous campaign trail. There are no more excuses.