"Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood...But it wasn't the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who had made it. Touched them every one. Changed and altered them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own"
— Toni Morrison, Beloved, pg. 234
Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th ends with a chilling and haunting outro of an audio from a Donald Trump speech, narrating (in a glorifying and nostalgic tone) state sanctioned violence on black bodies as disturbing video clips from the civil rights era and today depict the horrors he describes. Her film, and particularly this outro, could not have come at a more relevant time. The severity (that I had been trying to sweep under the rug to protect my sanity) hit me. There is a very significant portion our population entangled in a growing jungle of hatred.
My Dad paused the debate last week, and as he searched my face for some reassurance, asked with fear in his voice if I really thought Trump would win this election. As a devout Muslim and black man, my Dad's paranoia of white violence is at an all-time high. He and my Mother fled Ethiopia in the 1980s during a bloody revolution, and the recent blatancy of hate has them both shaken up. For them, political instability, misuse of power, state sanctioned violence and revolution are not nebulous terms. As hate crimes against Muslims rise and police violence continues to escalate with impunity, this election has unearthed the buried proclivities toward hate and violence that are at the core of this nation.
A recent article by Mother Jones reports: "In late August, Occidental Dissent's Brad Griffin mused about the possibility of a Trump win: 'Can you imagine a world in which White Nationalists have come out of the closet, the charge of 'racism' elicits only a 'meh' and shrugged shoulders, and we have begun to openly organize? Don't underestimate the power of the presidency to legitimize marginalized people and deviant movements. If Barack Obama can legitimize gay marriage and transsexuals, Donald Trump can legitimize the Alt-Right.'"
The article goes on to describe the impact of Trump's campaign regardless of whether or not he wins: "This stance has thrilled and emboldened hate groups far more than has been generally understood during the 2016 race for the White House. Moreover, Trump's tacit welcoming of these hate groups into mainstream American politics will have long-lasting consequences, according to these groups' own leaders, regardless of the election outcome."
As history has shown us, white supremacy and violence has done much more than promote hostility. Deep seeded white supremacy has been at the foundation of almost every policy that has historically marginalized black people. White supremacy is much more than Trump spouting hate on a stage, for us it means there could be an intentional and calculated sabotage of black futures. It means that people of color here and abroad are subject to dehumanization in the name of fear. It means that power has been willingly given to those who unabashedly promote hate and claim supremacy.
“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” - James Baldwin
How do we respond to hatred without fear-mongering ourselves and loved ones? While also being strategic about our resistance and self preservation?
This wave of hate has proven difficult to cope with for many, Slate published an entire article describing a spike in anxiety due to the election; “Victims of Trump-induced anxiety describe nightmares, insomnia, digestive problems, and headaches. Therapists find themselves helping their patients through a process that feels less like an election than a national nervous breakdown.”
As we are collectively triggered by rhetoric and as we worry about the safety of our loved ones, we know a few things to be true. One — whether or not the hate is blatant or buried in more covert ways, we know it to be there, lurking. Two — our resilience has never perished and our movements towards truth and liberation have remained relentless. Although this election has been fraught with insidious and undisguised hate, our existence proves that light creates love.
“For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.” -James Baldwin
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