To be black in America is to exist in a state of perpetual exhaustion and mild paranoia. If you thought you were alone in feeling that the current presidency has exacerbated that exhaustion, you are very much not.
The Washington Post published a poll on Friday that surveyed black Americans. It showed that 65 percent of respondents felt it was a bad time to be black in America. It also showed that 8 in 10 respondents felt that Trump is a racist and is actively making the racism worse in this country. The poll also showed that 77 percent of the respondents felt that it was a good time to be white in America, with a majority feeling that white people don’t have an understanding of the discrimination black Americans face.
Frankly, this is unsurprising. Just from my experience from living as a black man in America, I can personally attest to things feeling significantly worse in the past five years since Trump went down those escalator stairs. I live in Arizona which overwhelmingly went for Trump. That fact alone has created a perpetual feeling of looking over my shoulders. People are a little more emboldened to come out of pocket. I remember shortly after the election I was cutting through the mall to go catch a movie. As I walked to the theater this dude in a Trump shirt was just staring me down like he was trying to prove a point. In 2017 when some of my friends were tear gassed by Phoenix P.D while protesting a Trump rally, it really sunk in that this is reality now. This is what white America is okay with.
A woman the Post interviewed, a university researcher by the name of Francine Cartwright, made a poignant observation. “If I’m in a room with white women, I know that 50 percent of them voted for Trump and they believe in his ideas. I look at them and think, ‘How do you see me? What is my humanity to you?’” That is such a concise summary for how it feels to be around white people these days. It’s an innate feeling of distrust. You can say you’re not racist all you want but the man you put in charge certainly says otherwise.
If there is bright spot in the poll it’s that the majority of black Americans have an optimistic outlook for their own lives. Additionally, Trump only is receiving 4 to 5 percent support from registered black voters on his bid for reelection. That support can probably be boiled down to Kanye West, Diamond and Silk and Candace Owens. While, hopefully, Trump will be held to only one term, it’s going to take much longer to repair the wounds his presidency has bared open.