The impossible happened. Against all odds, against all prognostications, America elected a racist, xenophobic and misogynist man in Donald Trump as president of the United States. It’s not as if America hasn’t done this before, of course; we’ve elected plenty of racist, xenophobic and misogynistic white men. But this hurt more because we were all fooled. We thought that a country that had elected a man with the middle name of Hussein couldn’t possibly take a step backward and elect a reality-show star without an ounce of knowledge about anything. And yet white people did. They elected Trump because their love of white supremacy trumped their desire for a competent person as the most powerful human being on the planet.
Calling Mexicans rapists was fine for them. Saying that he’s going to deport over 10 million human beings was fine with these voters. Listening to him say that he can grab women by their genitalia, voters checked his box. A Muslim roundup? Completely fine. Insulting war heroes, or the war dead? Make no mind. Nearly 60 million mostly white people picked themselves over our humanity, and you should pay attention. Very close attention. These are dangerous times.
The media, and America, will try to hide the fact that America chose a white supremacist as president by claiming that his election was about everything except race. We’ll hear about how uneducated white people felt left behind, and that they were angry. But what they won’t say is that these uneducated white people are angry because they blame blacks, Latinos, Asians, LGBTQ people and women for demanding that an America that looks like them act as if it respects their humanity.
Black and Latino folks tried to save white people from themselves, but in the end, the allure of being told false promises by a charlatan who’d use every con in the game to bring an electorate afraid of the black and brown other was too much to overcome. And as a result, we as black, Latino, Asian, female, LGBTQ and all other sane Americans will now enter a darkness that will last a minimum of four years.
And make no mistake: We as African Americans are now entering a new nadir, a place in this democratic experiment where we are essentially more vulnerable than we’ve been since Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. A man whose campaign CEO is an unabashed racist will now have the CIA, FBI, IRS and other instruments of the government in his hands, and he will use them against us.
Like an impending execution, oppression tends to focus the mind. The Obama promise of hope and change has now morphed into the whirlwind of hate and despair. It is our duty to create massive resistance to a global white nationalist movement, one that created Brexit in the United Kingdom, and empowers Marine Le Pen in France, as a way to survive. In other words, the days of frivolousness are now over.
Racism, misogyny and religious intolerance have now been given a green light, and you need to understand that you will be under attack. You will be under attack from government policy. You will be under attack from the courts. You will be under attack from the police. You will be under attack on high school and college campuses. You will be under attack everywhere. Make no mistake: Donald Trump is as close to a strong-man fascist president as we’ve seen in our lifetime. And strong men don’t look for the middle; they demand everything they want.
The age of Obama is now dead. The age of mass resistance has now arrived. This means, from hip-hop artists to black Greeks, from the black church to our black politicians, from HBCUs to social-justice movements, if you run across elements in the African-American community who are not about mass resistance to this existential threat to African America, then you must either change them or drop them. There is no middle ground. If you belong to organizations that spend more time in banquets than working to empower strategy to attack a system designed to destroy you, you must either leave them or change them.
There is no middle ground.
But that said, we must always remember that as a people, African Americans are the children of the enslaved whom they couldn’t kill. We gonna be all right. We live in a white supremacist country that has denied our humanity since we were first declared chattel on these American shores, and yet to paraphrase Maya Angelou’s eloquent words, “And still we rise.” We’ll rise from Trump.
Lawrence Ross is the author of the Los Angeles Times best-seller The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities. His newest book, Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses, is a blunt and frank look at the historical and contemporary issue of campus racism on predominantly white college campuses. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.