Trump will be our next president, and it feels like the end of the world.
He spun that same racist spell that enraptures the most vulnerable white people. He empowers them by letting them retreat into their whiteness, rather than confront the reality that their country is not designed for their success.
It worked. It worked in the 1800s, it worked to elect Nixon, it worked to elect Reagan, it worked in 2016.
This is an old apocalypse, not a new one. Liberal swaths of progress have always been met with conservative backlash.
Reconstruction followed the Civil War, Mass Incarceration followed the Civil Rights Movement, and now Trumpism follows the Obama Era and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The challenge before us now is to double down our efforts and not give up the fight.
In a strange and frustrating way, this moment can be good for progressives.
Imagine if Clinton had won. How many of those inert well-meaning white folks would have just breathed a sigh of relief and continued their privileged existence? How many white liberals would have given themselves a pat on the back as a “job well done?” How many of us Black folks, dispossessed and depressed, would have leaned back into the haze of complacency Democrats conjure for us? Trump is a terrible thing. But we would have been too comfortable with Clinton to truly hold her accountable.
We are at the moment of truth. In the time of supposed colorblindness, no reasonable human being can deny that yes--America is as racist, sexist, and homophobic and hateful as you think it is. Trump is the result of "well-meaning" centrism coupled with a white nationalism and extremism. Trump is the apex of the worse this nation has to offer.
This is our wake up call. This is the time to realize that all elections matter, not just for the president, but at the state and local levels. This is the time to keep organizing and keep protesting. This is the time to care for ourselves and care for others, to join in broad-based coalitions across gender, sexuality, race, ability, religion, and nationality. This is the time to realize that “none of us are free until all of us are free.” We now must push for transformative work of vast proportions like reparations and worlds without prisons, and not settle for incremental reforms.
We need to allow this moment to shake us out of whatever vestiges of complacency we held. We have to let this moment do its work.
We are still Black and beautiful. We are still loving and resilient and brilliant. We still have the power to take care of our children. We still have the power to take care of ourselves. We are still in the midst of a movement. We still have the power to fight.
Trump alone cannot take that away from us.
Yes, our ancestors fought for our right to vote, but the real lessons they taught us were to keep going and keep fighting in the wake of mountainous resistance. Let us use this moment to become more of ourselves. More visionary and more strategic. We can do it, this is nothing we have not seen before.
Aaron is a writer, activist, educator, graduate of the University of Chicago, and co-editor of the Newer Negroes blog. His work has been featured in Colorlines, Mused Magazine Online, the Feminist Wire, TruthOut.com, the Advocate, and the Black Youth Project. He currently is a member of the Black Youth Project 100 and teaches elementary school on the South Side of Chicago.
He is an only child, from Detroit, Michigan, loves RPGs and literature, is constantly envisioning a better world for black queer folks, and retains a deep and abiding love for his mother.