Crazy Faith Ministries
In much of the Black community, there is a feeling of deep depression and despair due to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
Years of hard-won victories, representing fights against the ingrown cancer of this country, White supremacy, seem to be on the verge of falling into obscurity.
“We’ve lost everything,” is the sentiment being voiced. “We have lost everything we fought for.” While the claim, albeit false, after the 2008 election of Barack Obama was that America had entered a post-racial era; the fear now is that America has backtracked into its pre-Civil Rights stature.
Some Whites are gleeful. The cry was always “let’s take our country back,” and the understanding of what was really being said was that White people wanted to take America back to the 50s, where White supremacy ran pretty much without resistance. White people knew their place – which was above every other ethnic group, especially Black people. There was little to no banter about inclusion or diversity. Inclusion and diversity simply were not a part of the needs of this nation, people felt. We would be just fine with things as they were.
But “things as they were” did not reflect the changing demographics of the United States. Nor did they reflect the growing anger in the Black community about the way they were treated, coupled with their growing lack of fear of White people. The brutal murder of Emmett Till, followed by the acquittal of the men who killed him, set things in motion to let White America know that “things as they were” was unacceptable.
As the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, the resistance of White people to the demand for justice, dignity and equal protection under the law grew as well. White people, many of them, could not understand why Black people could not just let well enough alone. “Things as they were” had worked for decades. Why mess with something that White people felt was not broken?
But it was the very brokenness of the White supremacists’ system, which White people loved, which was driving the fight. Black people were deciding that, regardless of the cost, they were not willing to quietly acquiesce, buy into and finance their own oppression.
Ironically, the courage of Black people to fight for their justice encouraged other oppressed groups to fight in like manner. Women, members of the LGBTQ community and others learned from the non-violent movement of Black people. Many more Americans who had been marginalized were stepping up and would not be quelled.
White people did not like what was going on, but could not stop the momentum – until, some say, now.
With the election of Trump to the presidency and the complete Republican control of the legislature and probably the U.S. Supreme Court in the future, the pendulum has seemingly swung all the way back to pre-Civil War American life, where White people in general – and wealthy White men in particular – are calling the shots.
A friend of mine, a pastor, said he is so distraught that he has sought counseling. The one thing he said that the counselor said to him was, “Be careful not to give in to despair.”
That would be the admonition for all who are concerned about this, “the day after” the most upsetting election in modern history. Many people did not like Hillary Clinton, but they were not afraid of what her presidency would have meant for them, and they were not afraid that, under her presidency, that marginalized groups would be marginalized even further.
Not so with Donald Trump. Groups – Black people certainly, but immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, Jews, etc. – are worried. The Trump rhetoric was racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and hate-filled. The people Trump has selected so far for his cabinet, are old, White men who seemingly share Trump’s worldview. It feels like nobody is safe – except White people.
There it always a criticism in this country that “the race card” is played whenever issues of race are brought up. But that race card was part of the original deck used by the Founding Fathers in their foundational planning of what this nation would be. Black people were seen as a problem then and are still seen as a problem – but now, there are a whole lot of other “problems” this country is dealing with, and the solution seems to be for everything to just go back to “the way things were.”
That will never happen.
So, it remains to be seen, as the Trump people work as hard as they can to put White supremacy back in the driver’s seat, what the masses of marginalized citizens will do.
The hope is that they will join forces and fight for their rights in spite of it looking like a lion’s den in front of them.
The right faced their own moment of despair, it is said, when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. They probably perceived a lion’s den, too.
But they organized and laid out intentional plans in order to change the landscape.
It is a work plan that all who feel frightened about the Trump election must imitate and surpass.
Giving into despair is just not an option.
Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries in Columbus, Ohio, and is also communications consultant for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Inc.