In 2016, I still remember the feeling of trauma, disappointment, and fear that I felt when Trump was declared President of the United States. A man accused of racism, sexism, sexual assault, mocking disabled people, stereotyping Mexicans as rapists and so much more, was now the president. Would we survive? What would become of us as a nation? My heart couldn’t take it and I decided to just ignore the news, ignore the fact he was President and proceed with my life, business as usual. I am going to talk further about the irony of business as usual, but I want to highlight that I blamed myself for Trump’s win. I didn’t do anything to help Hilary’s campaign, I assumed that following the Obama years, we were progressive enough as a country not to even consider President Trump. Granted, people did not like Hillary Clinton, but I honestly thought that because Trump proved how unfit and un-American he was during his campaign, people would see that too. So I counted on my vote counting; assumed that everyone else voted for Hillary too, walked away from that voting booth with confidence that we were going to have our first woman president. However, I was left with pie on my face later that night when the results said otherwise. It was devastating to me as a black woman because I felt neglected by this country. I didn’t feel seen. I felt like America was choosing to uphold the system of white supremacy and racism over me and others that looked like me. My spirit was broken. Business as usual was my only means of coping. I can count on one hand how many times I watched the news while Trump was in office, I even remember one time a few years into his administration hearing a news reporter say President Donald Trump, and I had a weird moment where I had to remind myself oh yeah, he’s president…but why?
While I tried to live in a bubble of not acknowledging Trump as my president, or as I mentioned earlier business as usual, it was impossible. I couldn’t shake hearing what was going on in the world during his administration. Immigrants desperately afraid of ICE who would deport them; Children in cages, separated from their parents some getting sexually abused, which is absolutely deplorable; Dream Act, which grants residency and the right to work to immigrants who entered the country as minors at the risk of being revoked. Certain countries in the Middle East and Africa such as Iran and Somalia were a part of Trump’s Travel Ban, denied access into the United States, possibly because of their Muslim affiliation; Executive orders which revoked many rights that the Obama administration put forth including climate reform; His silence when it came to social justice issues such as the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others who passed away during his presidency spoke volumes to where he stood on these issues and how much he cared about blacks and their struggles, but worst of all, his support of white supremacists, right-wing groups.
His whole presidency was filled with lies, misinformation, fake news, bullying and scandal. But people didn’t seem to be phased by it until COVID-19. After looking at how close the race was, I now see that he could’ve been our next President. However, his recklessness during the pandemic where over 200,000 Americans were killed was probably the final straw for undecided voters. I think democrats were over him from the beginning but those who were undecided probably were impacted by how insensitive and reckless he was being during this crisis. He didn’t care that we were in a pandemic, he still held rallies and turned a blind eye to his base not wearing masks and social distancing, he also rarely wore masks until he became a victim of COVID-19 and even then, he pulled a stunt possibly endangering the secret service when he went on a joy ride to wave hello to his fans outside of his hospital. The Trump’s years is absolutely insane when you really think about it.
But as the age old saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. So I will acknowledge the good things that came out of a Trump presidency:
#MeTooMovement: Grab them by the P***y, Trump once said and it opened up the flood gates to an insidious issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault that has been going on behind closed doors in Hollywood, record labels, at major fortune 500 companies, and media networks around the nation. Men (and some women) were exposed for being sexual harassers to women (and men) in the workplace. Prominent men around the nation was fired from their jobs and some received jail time for their heinous actions. It almost felt like a witch hunt but it made me proud. As someone who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, I understand how uncomfortable and powerless it feels to endure that kind of trauma and I always wondered why it was such a silenced issue. How I coped was I wrote a script about it. I never produced it but writing has always been my refuge. I did feel somewhat redeemed watching justice being served to those individuals who abused their power and influence.
Black Lives Matter Movement: When we went into quarantine I remember having a thought in the back of my head, but I shook it out because it was dark…nightmarish even. Literally, the next day on March 13th, Breonna Taylor was senselessly killed by police officers. Also Ahmaud Arbery, was killed for jogging in his Georgia neighborhood, and then George Floyd, with a knee in his neck, screaming to live, telling officers he could not breathe, was murdered by police officers; it was one of the most dehumanizing deaths I’ve ever seen. My nightmarish thought had become a reality. Even during a pandemic, black lives were killed senselessly; we were not even protected sheltering in place. How is that possible? Surprisingly, people took notice. Businesses took notice. Finally, America seemed to be outraged. Finally, people realized systemic racism was an issue and something had to be done. Finally, Finally, Finally. While Trump didn’t actually denounce those deaths, Americans realized he was a part of the problem. Racism is pervasive and has to be uprooted. We can no longer turn a blind eye to it. We have to acknowledge it and having a racist president in office only heightened it. We can’t get comfortable.
Fortunately, for us, Trump’s presidency made some of us realize how much change needed to happen and fast. We had a reality star as President, and while people thought that was cute most Americans knew the integrity of our democracy was at stake. Saturday, November 7th was the best day of 2020. After a very harsh year filled with death, grief, disappointment, you name it, we collectively came together to push America back in a direction that our Grandchildren will hopefully thank us for. It will take a lot of work, to get back on track, and we have to hold those in power accountable but we now have Kamala Harris, a Black Woman as Vice President and Joe Biden, a compassionate, integral, career politician as President, and after the last four years we are grateful. The work doesn’t end at voting; I learned that in 2016 and I learned that this year as well. I joined the Biden/Harris campaign and made calls to the battleground states. I was cursed out, hung up on, and sent straight to voicemail, but I was also able to talk to Americans who were genuinely grateful for my call. Some senior citizens didn’t know where their polling place was and I was able to help them. It was such a powerful experience that I will continue to take part in because it’s my civic duty and I never want to feel as powerless as I felt the day after Trump won. What a difference 4-years make because today I woke up with a sense of peace and security. It felt so good to know that as Americans, we came to our senses and that Black women as usual, played a huge part in saving our democracy. Let’s celebrate now but we have major work to do.