OK, now, before you start lobbing grenades into the comments section, let me start by stating the obvious, for the record: This presidency is both a sham and a shit show, and its accompanying administration a corrupt clusterfuck of epic proportions.
Felt good to get that out. Don’t you feel better? Glad we’re all on the same page.
That said, it’s now been a full calendar year since the political and emotional apocalypse otherwise known as Election Night 2016—and somehow, we haven’t completely devolved into civil or nuclear war yet (wait for it ... ). It might even be fair to say that while this president is unequivocally the WORST, his repugnance has inspired a few positives. So at the risk of being accused of looking at “many sides,” I challenged my personal hive to a “say something nice” challenge:
What are some things that have unexpectedly and/or perversely gotten better since Trump was elected?
Yeah, there were a lot of those, along with a chorus of “NOTHING!” and a few poop emojis. But then we started to get constructive; because frankly, that’s what good folks do when faced with abject evil. Here’s what we came up with:
1. Racists came out of the closet.
I mean, they basically had their own “pride” march. And while we always knew they existed, it’s good to be able to put names to faces (and now-former occupations and criminal records). Donald Trump encouraged a slew of racists, both virulent and latent, to show themselves, and frankly, I think we’re the better for it. I mean, it’s ideal to know where the landmines are on the road to freedom. At the very least, as one (white) friend noted, “I found out which co-workers I need to avoid.”
2. Predators are on notice.
No, we couldn’t keep an admitted predator out of the White House; but the rest of these MFers better keep their hands to themselves, because it is open season on those who abuse their power. From Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes to a once revered Kevin Spacey, high-profile predators are falling like dominoes—just check the running list on our sister site Jezebel. Lives and careers are rightly being blown to smithereens, and the victimized are finally being given a voice and some much-needed empathy (shoutout to Tarana Burke and #MeToo).
And for those of you who’ve persistently whined—yes, whined—about the treatment of famous black predators vs. white ones, you can now kindly shut all the way up. Because it was always less about the color of the predators than about the perceived value of their victims.
3. Black female politicians are reclaiming their time.
All praises due to our favorite auntie, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). The laser-focused Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). The committed and compassionate Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). Much like the way we tried to save this country from the Orange Menace last November, black women have always engaged in the often thankless work of trying to bring out the best in this ass-backward country, and now some of us are finally getting some well-deserved shine. We can only hope that a new generation of black women—and men—will be inspired to get involved in reshaping our republic, because we desperately need new torchbearers.
4. Joy-Ann Reid is on FIRE.
Point blank, period. She is taking names and handing out receipts, and I am entirely here for it. While last year’s dustup with a much-beloved Melissa Harris-Perry caused many of us to cancel MSNBC forever, there is little doubt that Reid is using her platform well, both on air and on social media: Her Twitter feed is reliably full of good reads. MSNBC may still have some work to do when it comes to black representation, but Reid is most definitely doing the work.
5. White people are finally calling a thing a thing.
I know, I know, #NotAllWhitePeople. But perhaps the best side effect of having Trump as president is that “good white people” (read: allies in name only) are so eager to disassociate with him and the white supremacy he’s emboldened that they’re finally doing the damn work and using their privilege responsibly (e.g., Jane Fonda’s response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal). As one of my more woke white friends recounted overhearing: “I don’t care how you got woke; I care that you stay woke.” May more white people wake the hell up.
6. No more “fake news.”
While this was less a problem in our communities than in the much-discussed Rust Belt, we’ve all become more aware and diligent about fact-checking the rhetoric we use and disseminate. More importantly, many of us have become more politically informed and involved, out of sheer necessity and self-preservation. Because as soon as truth stops being subjective, we all stand to benefit.
7. We found a common enemy.
Donald Trump may be the most divisive leader in our country’s history, but he united many of us around a common goal: getting him the hell out of here and ensuring that nothing like him ever happens again. And while that may not happen before the next presidential election, it’s important to leverage the fact that, however briefly, black folks focused their rage on a common enemy.
Now, if we could just do the same around a common cause.
Update: As this went to press, the American people voted again; electing, among others, two new Democratic governors, two black lieutenant governors, a Sikh mayor and the first openly transgender state legislator. So, white male patriarchy and mediocrity should consider itself on notice, too.