Last Tuesday as the election results were pouring in, I was at the airport waiting to board a flight out of the country. The timing of a planned work-cation to Tahiti could’t have been better. But as I sat in the terminal witnessing all of the hope and progress of the past 8 years disappear, I could feel the anger boiling up inside of me. Once safely on the plane, I closed my eyes and figured when I landed in Tahiti the following morning, the nightmare would be over. It had only just begun.
Over the following days, I watched from a distance has the ugly giants of racism, sexism, and bigotry came out to play. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports over 700 hate crimes have occurred across the country since Trump’s election. The U.S. Justice Department is asking people to report any and all crimes and harassment and has promised to investigate. From the belligerent white male customer yelling at a Starbucks employee to a white Baltimore teacher screaming niggers at her students, here’s to making America Great Again. My social media feeds have been flooded with images of protests, racial slurs, and civil unrest. Even my mother who is one of the most level-headed and optimistic people I know is rightfully upset. A man accused of racism, sexism, hypocrisy and without the knowledge or experience of how government actually works is set to lead our country through war and peace as the President of the United States. God bless America.
Leaving behind the chaos for a few days gave me the energy to put the election into perspective. My mother pointed out that as black people, we have been through worse. We’ve had hundreds of years of oppression, violence, and hate spewed at us with the force of those firehoses used to knock down protesters during the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties. Women too have lived through decades upon decades of unequal pay, unwanted sexual advances, and mansplaining. There’s nothing new or shocking about the era of Trump, however, it is incredibly disappointing that a man like him is able to rise so quickly in what many liberals assumed was a post-racial society as if all the unjust murders of people of color by the hands of law enforcement weren’t enough to disprove that already.
Without a struggle, there can be no progress. – Frederick Douglass
Months before the election I remember telling a friend “If Trump wins, I’m not worried. This may be just what we need to light a fire under our asses.” It’s like when rappers have beef with each other and say their nemesis has gone soft. At times that’s how I feel about us collectively as a generation, race, sex – you name it. Compared to our parents and grandparents, we’ve had it so easy for a long time. We’ve never had to live through segregation, or a draft, or the Great Depression. Even in the continuing unjust killings of black men, some on social media wanted to boycott companies that literally had nothing to do with the killings. They wanted to boycott for the hell of it instead of boycotting for a purpose that would affect the brands who had actually disenfranchised us. Our anger has seemed misdirected like a little kid throwing a tantrum because his mom said he needs to wait to eat ice cream until after dinner. The anger of our generation (although I associate more with Gen X than mileannials) comes from a place of privilege.
One of the reasons I’m ready for the era of Trump is that I’ve legitimately been angry and woke for a long time. I’ve been called an angry black woman on more occasions than I care to count from work colleagues saying I’m being too outspoken to internet trolls who want to star a fight. The angry black woman was a moniker placed on many that was meant to demean us as if our anger was misguided, unwarranted, and downright ridiculous. Now that the reality of the election has set in, the anger is here and ferocious. The difference is that now it is spreading to others previously unaffected by America’s bigotry. The rest of the country that had rarely experienced the sort of hate black people and specifically black women had felt for years are now experiencing it too. Don’t fight the feeling. If we weren’t angry then that would mean we are numb and complacent. It would mean that we accept defeat. It would mean that hope is truly lost. Yes, soak up all that anger. It’s okay.
What women of color have learned to do for centuries and how others must adapt is channel that anger into positive and truly monumental action. Madame CJ Walker didn’t wait for someone to give her permission to become a self-made millionaire. The late U.S. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm didn’t ask if she could run for a political office, she just did it. Learn from the greats. Be that whistleblower who calls others out on their privilege. Stand up and speak up for someone who may not know how to be speak up for her or himself. Now’s the time to start those civil groups and non profits. Lead by example. Let others see you rise and encourage them to rise up too. For people of color, if you’ve ever dreamed about having a business or creating something for us by us, do it now. We will need all the support of our communities more than ever. So, get angry. Stay angry. Turn the nightmare of this new era into your defining Angry Black Woman moment.
If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it. – Sojourner Truth
Photo Credit: Naohmi Monroe