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If Trump’s Ignorance Mirrors Our Own, Who’s the Fairest of Us All?

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Image Credit: Illustration by Sir John Tenniel for Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass

Donald Trump in the White House?

I can’t even.

Ok, yes I can. We all can. Baby steps.

For nearly two weeks since the election every writing pen in this house felt dry. My fingers refused to scale a keyboard. Shock? Maybe. Disgust? Absolutely. Even Robert De Niro, America’s favorite “GoodFella” likened it to the way he felt just after 9/11 so there’s that. Trump at the presidential wheel brings with it groundbreaking uncertainty, saturated with ‘oh shit, what now?’ media cherries on top.

How could we let this happen?

We all held tickets to Trump’s roadshow circus after he declared war against the browning of America through his narcissistic media campaign against Muslims and Mexicans. Some of us even stood in line for the popcorn and drinks. We cracked jokes and recirculated memes over Facebook. We snickered, poked and rolled our eyes at his family. Whoa, is this is our new First Family? We were warned. Some of us heard you too, Mr. Moore!

We didn’t really grasp the way the U.S. Electoral College works (and still don’t). We knew to discard most of whatever CNN, MSNBC and Fox News pundits recycled, though still watched on occasion and retweeted their soundbites accordingly. By the way, nearly 47% of eligible voters didn’t show up to the polls to prevent our candidates from taking office either.

How did we get here? Privileged ignorance. And as Americans all of us have it, so we must get off that high-horse we may be riding out to pasture. While certain privilege allows us to power down the computer and place the phone on vibrate when we’ve seen or heard enough from our social media news feed, privileged ignorance allows us to compartmentalize racism and bigotry far enough away from the ballot box when it’s time to vote. Privileged ignorance allows for women to vote a misogynistic “p*ssy-grabber” into office, and privileged ignorance allows Christians nationwide to publicly endorse a bigot backed by the KKK for President.

They say we fell asleep at the wheel on November 8, 2016. Correction. This “United & Divided” States of America along with its narrative where white supremacy trumps all things coloured is nothing new. We’ve maintained this racial slumber for generations dating back to 1776 – or was it 1492?  This is our history.  Our American history. And it’s been tremendously successful for a distinct few.

Rebirth of a Nation

Sure, let’s make America great again. From where I sit, the process began nearly a decade ago when Barack Obama – a black man with a white mother, announced he was running for President of the United States. Then won. A couple years later I would serve on the team of public health advocates who because of Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and his Affordable Care Act created jobs, health initiatives and community transformation programs through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for four of the eight years he was in office.

We worked with families, schools, churches, community centers, and alongside other agencies to bring renewal, action and revitalization to the 10 million+ residents here throughout Los Angeles County. The thought that those years — along with millions of dollars in federal investments — may evaporate into thin air does chillingly feel like its own 9/11 when operating from a place of fear. But our President remains steadfast in our ability to overcome this electoral upset. “This is not the apocalypse,” Obama continues to reassure us.

Vocalizing warranted concerns and frustration over our broken political system — in the streets or at the playhouse is our constitutional right, but unless Trump rigged the game so that nearly 50% of the population didn’t bother to vote, we need to hold ourselves responsible for much of our own complacency throughout this election cycle too. Finger-pointing may be par for the course, but will only get us so far.

Perhaps it’s my own privileged ignorance that allows me to rationalize Trump’s forthcoming presidency as the ultimate “half-time” extravaganza. The principal performers of his troupe light up our TV sets and Twitter feeds while the real team players regroup in the locker room for the next four years. Yes, wishful thinking and a splash of denial, however it’s been less than a month and the initial shock remains thick.

With time, a clearer picture will emerge and once we remove the log from our eyes, we may be better equipped to follow the ball.  Then work together.

Our future as a nation depends on it.

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