I read so many stories of devastation from mainstream folks who don’t understand how Donald Trump was elected president and I am left wondering, where was this outrage 20, 50, 100, or even 150 years ago?
When you looked around Ivy League schools and suburban neighborhoods and saw very few minorities, where did you think they all were?
When you drove past the “Ghetto” or a Barrio or a Native Reservation, how did you think these neighborhoods and communities were established and maintained?
When you went to church and the definition of Traditional worship excluded entire communities and cultures of people, and the truth of an ethnic Jesus, what kind of message do you think that conveyed?
Before the Affordable Care Act, did you wonder how the rest of us afforded medical care?
When American slavery was legally abolished, do you think the same people who whipped, branded and traded Black people like cattle just started treating them with respect and high regard, and taught their own children to do the same?
Words like ‘mainline’ and ‘mainstream’ are used to describe American society, institutions and organizations. The people associated with and accepted into this “main” group are and have always been primarily White, able-bodied, American Christians who conform to ideals consistent with Heterosexism, Exceptionalism and Supremacism. The rest of us, those of us who reside on the margins for being poor or Black or Brown or non-Christian or differently-abled or LGBTQ, we have been intentionally excluded from all the main aspects of American society since the beginning of Western colonization. And when the marginalized work to gain access into mainstream society or insist upon multicultural approaches to being in community together, the “main” population pushes back in ways that are detrimental to our well-being, and oftentimes, our survival.
The American caste system of the haves and have-nots isn’t just about class or economics. People of color earn less money even if they work harder. We believe that farmers and laborers deserve to be paid less if they are Brown and undocumented. We have segregated housing and places of worship. We don’t require people in positions of power, who are charged with leading diverse populations, to have training or competence outside of their own cultural lenses and biases. We punish the sick by robbing them blind for medications they need just so that corporations can hoard money.
We incarcerate the poor and ill. We punish low-income students who can’t find adequate employment to pay off their education debt and if they choose to not go to school altogether because they can’t afford it, they are relegated to a lifetime of hustling or poverty—and we ridicule them for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. We support companies’ freedom to fire at will—even if the person fired didn’t “do” anything wrong and is providing for a family; and we tell them that asking for food stamps or help paying for rent is them asking for a handout.
Mr. Trump is a successful business man and he is a direct manifestation of American culture, politics and history. Some of the outlandish things he’s threatened, or even the disturbing things he’s tweeted, is consistent with the way mainstream society has acted in response to those who don’t conform to mainstream ideals. We marginalized people in our society WAY before Mr. Trump was elected.
There are many people who support Donald Trump because they support the America they’ve always known and they believe that Donald Trump’s leadership will maintain that America. For the people who so vehemently oppose Donald Trump, many believe that Hillary Clinton’s leadership would have advanced the America they believe is possible, one that diametrically opposes the America we live in today.
If he hadn’t won, and Hillary Clinton had won instead, the unequal and unjust treatment many believe Mr. Trump encourages would still be happening. The difference between the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee from this presidential election cycle is honesty. Donald Trump is honest about the way things are and honest about the way he is, and he doesn’t pretend that progress will come for the least of those among us because he knows that a silent majority of Americans prefer comfort and feeling superior over empowering those on the margins and disrupting the status quo.
For many, the idea of a hardworking Latino man being paid the same wages as a hardworking White man uncomfortably levels the playing field. Likewise, what would suburban home values plummet to if every neighborhood allowed in residents with Section-8 vouchers? The social and political moderates have always been more concerned with prioritizing and maintaining the status quo of the mainstream, so the lives of those on the margins would not have significantly improved had the election results been different—unless, of course, someone like Bernie Sanders took office or Barack Obama had a 3rd term.
There are folks of all races, ethnic groups and social locations who advocate for social equality and fairness, and they have a right to be disappointed that their candidate didn’t win. But for those who do very little to disrupt our caste system and their own feelings of superiority, perhaps being angry at Donald Trump is a scapegoat to avoid reconciling their own complicity in and subsequent guilt for silently maintaining a dichotomous society wherein some are allowed to thrive comfortably while others spend their lifetime with very little hope for social mobility.
Some people were shocked at my lack of devastation that Wednesday morning after the election; they said that my life will be worse now because Mr. Trump is president, and that I should be fearful of that. It seems to me, however, that my life will remain exactly the same as it has always been.
I was followed around stores out of suspicion that I might steal something before Mr. Trump was elected. I was harassed and discriminated against for being Black and Transgender before Mr. Trump was elected.
My late mother was physically and mentally ill, and she was repeatedly denied disability benefits so she worked at Walmart and day after day, stood on street corners and freeway intersections with a cardboard sign asking for money to help make ends meet—and that was before Mr. Trump was elected. There are communities of children living in lower income neighborhoods who will never know what vacations, braces, or extracurricular activities are—and that was the case before Mr. Trump was elected.
Donald Trump is my president because a silent majority supports a biased social system and because a Christian, White majority voted him into office.
I don’t agree with everything that any president might propose—none of us do, but when mainstream Americans have long supported segregated institutions and neighborhoods, marginalization, and the criminalization of the poor, how can anyone be surprised that we are where we are right now as a nation? I am actually glad that Mr. Trump is president because maybe now enough people will see the truth of our world, and the true heart of this nation, and work to organize and make things better for all of us.