On November 8, 2016, an Internet troll became the President of the United States of America.
His name is Donald J. Trump; he is a corrupt businessman who antagonized minorities, LGBTQ+ and women (among others) and used it as fuel to drive his tumultuous presidential campaign. He is now preparing to sit in the Oval Office — this past week, President Obama invited him to the White House.
This stuff-of-nightmares pricks me.
For alt-right supporters and Steve Bannon, a white man in the White House means that we are making America great again.
For many Americans, a bigoted, chauvinistic, misogynistic man in the White House means— let us make America grieve again.
According to Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are six stages of grief:
As part of the disenfranchised population, I am sorrily stuck on Stage 3. To cope with the news, I am staying proactive at school, on social media and looking out for my friends in case they need comfort and support. For some, raising hell through violent riots is how they cope. For others, peaceful protests are the way to go.
And for the Internet population, taking a selfie with a safety pin is the norm. It is apparently how we as humans show virtual support and solidarity for fellow Americans and “illegal aliens” who feel lost, angry and afraid.
At first, I thought it was cute. And then I became furious.
To quote Christopher Keelty, “Dear white people, your safety pins are embarrassing.”
I am an Asian woman and naturalized citizen of these great states. I am not racist. Having been bullied extensively growing up due to my skin color, I vowed not to add more animosity upon the world. When I first heard the news that Trump won the presidential campaign, it was like my heart was an open wound being poured on by endless amounts of rubbing alcohol.
It hurt; it burned; it stung.
In Nell Irvin Painter’s New York Times article “What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era” he states that, “Donald J. Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” a phrase whose “great” was widely heard as “white.”
The slogan itself is ensnared with white nationalism. We cannot simply wear safety pins to show that we are allies with disenfranchised people.
Marginalized populations remember the extensive history of white people claiming themselves allies while in turn doing absolutely nothing to help.
Now, I understand that not all Trump supporters are racist, sexist or homophobic.
Don’t believe me? Van Jones, an African-American CNN political commentator, interviewed several white Trump supporters in Gettysburg, PA — where naturally the Battle of Gettysburg and then President Lincoln’s well-known Gettysburg Address both occurred.
As far as the episodes went, the interviewees seemed genuine with their opinions. They unanimously agreed upon one subject: they voted for Trump because they wanted change.
Truth is, I’m all for change. I’m a millennial, for Pete’s sake.
But how can one look past the debauchery, acrimonious rhetoric and racially charged actions that this white nationalist demagogue has done?
With great assumption, Trump supporters will naturally counter my argument with calling Hillary Clinton a liar, a cheat, a woman who should be in jail. All points taken.
However, the truth is, if you voted for Trump, then you decided that racism isn’t a deal breaker. And that, my friends, is a deal breaker for me.
By voting for Trump, you chose to extend a long arduous fight that dates back to whence it began: Blumenbach’s five categories of race, Caucasian being the utmost best. The historic fetishization of white beauty is strongly affiliated with the power of the white man. It took the world centuries to trump this idea and find a happy medium between races. Though imperfect, the Western world certainly found a way for many races to live together.
If you voted for Trump, then you chose to invalidate battles, fights, wars against racism —one of the most important social causes of our time. You chose to invalidate the lives of millions who fought their way for us to get here.
I do not know if America, or the world in general, will be able to extenuate that.
On his take of the election votes, an emotional Van Jones helplessly asked the viewers, “How do I explain this to my children?” He then blamed President-elect Trump’s win on a “whitelash.”
The term “whitelash” seemed too harsh, too truthful for many Americans. In retrospect, Van Jones was simply stating a fact.
A whitelash cannot simply be broken by conveniently hitting two birds with one stone: stroking one’s egoism and posting a weekly selfie while wearing a safety pin, along with a wannabe empowering caption.
You cannot wear safety pins to show total support for your fellow Americans when in fact you voted for the person whose campaign rhetoric is the reason why they — we — are all in this predicament.
I am speaking to all —most specifically white Trump supporters.
You are not allowed to convenience yourself by wearing a safety pin. Your safety pins do not absolve the sins of your fellow racial cohort. Your safety pins do not allow you to assuage the guilt and say “I am one of the good ones.”
Just as equally as the fact that none of us are allowed to eschew Trump’s racist, sexist and homophobic remarks. Most importantly if one helped in creating Trump’s stairway to blinding white heaven through voting him to office —then one must be aware that in doing so, one helped to create the disenfranchised people’s stairway to hell.
This Thanksgiving, I plead with you — if you hear of your aunt’s annual racial commentary about i.e. a Chinese woman who runs her laundromat, please stop her. Stop her. Call her out. Inform her. Do all that you can to show her what you see. Because if what you see is good, and she sees that as well — then we have hope.
Do not wear a safety pin when your words and your actions can act as a safeguard to everyone — including yourself.
Perhaps the result of the 2016 presidential elections is not the result we hoped for. And perhaps the Trumpocalypse is upon us.
But I offer this idea to you — it’s beautiful, isn’t it?
How it hurts, how it burns, how it stings — but we never give up.