Dear Donald Trump supporters,
Can I tell you a story?
For the first half of my childhood, I grew up in Virginia with my mother and older brother. My mother, a self professed black rights crusader, made it her business to teach us about our culture. She injected it into every single part of our childhood. She understood the value of loving who we were in a country that was built on the foundation of destructing us.
One afternoon, she told me about the Klu Klux Klan. She carefully explained who they were, the horrors they released on people of color, and the power that they had. She told me the story of Emit Till and how the KKK sunk their nails into his young, fleshy life. She told me about the lynchings, whipings, and pure terror.
That night, and for many nights for a while after, I went to sleep terrified that the KKK would break my front door down and drag me out of my home by my hair while my mother helplessly watched. The fear crippling. Reassuringly, my mother told me that the KKK still existed but didn’t have the same type of power as they did in those days. Their strength was weakened, she said, but their hate was as strong as ever. I went to bed that night still wrapped in fear.
To you, that fear may have seemed irrational. How can a little black girl be afraid of the KKK in the 90’s? Sounds melodramatic?
Here’s the thing; the anxiety that crept up my back and squeezed my airways too tight when I was a child when I thought about the KKK is the same fear that showed up on the day Donald Trump was elected to run this country. Like the organization built on hatred of others, Trump has run an entire election campaign on a platform of exclusion and promises of making this country great again. His hate speech has unearthed and reversed much of the progress that America has made in the last few decades. He has set a tone that it is ok to hate the immigrants that this country depends on. It is ok to narrowly think of black folk as uneducated, hopeless vagrants. It is fine to grab a woman by the pussy because, after all, it is there for the pleasure of men and creating life.
When I say that I am afraid of what this Trump presidency will do to this country, I remember the little girl decades ago cowering in her room thinking about the KKK. The fear that my race and my gender will be, in itself, an offense is scary.
It may be too big of a task to ask you to understand or to try and put yourself in the shoes of your black, immigrant, and non-white male friends. Maybe you can’t do that. But please, stop discounting our fear, angst, and terror as melodrama. Try to empathize. Try to create constructive conversations about how, over these next 4 years, we are going to unite this country instead of participate in tearing in further a part. The election is done and the votes are in but we can still work hard to keep this country united, voices heard, and everyone safe. If a single American is discriminated against and marginalized with their rights and freedoms jeopardized, all of our rights and freedoms are at risk.
Someone who will never stop fighting