Trump Has Planted Seeds Of Fear

Now, in his presidency, he will watch them germinate.

Wherever you lie on the political continuum, the last year in American politics has been far from normal.

The titles of Republican and Democrat were often abandoned by the US population in favour of a far more person-centric election, arguably less political and more personal than any other election since the country’s founding. Mrs. Clinton’s standpoint was not traditionally Democratic, and Mr Trump was to the right of your average Republican.

And there was nothing anyone could do about it.

So, we watched, and we waited and eventually we saw the hysterical rise of a reality television star and entrepreneur from laughing stock to legitimacy.

Despite the early dismissal of the now President-Elect as someone who could never head the American Executive branch, Donald Trump made promises of ‘draining the swamp’ to create a truly Great America and spouted his opinions – bigly.

It is difficult to fathom why the American electorate chose a candidate with absolutely no political experience or arguably any legitimate viewpoints at all. However, if we were to pinpoint a specific reason as to why Mr. Trump will soon be the ‘Leader of the Free World’, we may be able to hazard a guess.

Fear.

The man dubbed as racist, sexist, ableist and homophobic from the get-go, went down a treat, particularly with Conservative Americans. Despite his outlandish claims to build a wall, or his idea to ban Muslims from entering the country, it seemed these statements were tapping deep into the American psyche, capitalising on the agitation present within the Land of the Free – the idea that American jobs were being taken from American workers.

For people of colour and indeed all minority groups not only in America but around the world, we believed America would take yet another step in world progression, to try to make the world a better place for all. Barack Obama’s election in 2008 had brought many to tears of joy– an example of overcoming prejudices and proof that a first world power no longer relied upon the white cultural hegemony it used to build the country. Yet, as Van Jones so aptly put it, following the election results in early November, the election of Trump was a whitelash against a country that had ‘endured’ progression for the last eight years and now preferred to return to something which reconciled their views. And now – POC must face the consequences.

At first voters tried to pass off selecting such a candidate as the removal of the political elite, then Trump’s amazing business acumen (bearing in mind the President-Elect has filed for bankruptcy three times) and finally as Mrs. Clinton’s alleged criminality. However, as people of colour, minorities considered as subnormal to the standard narrative for years, we can see past the façade of ‘Making America Great Again’, particularly as arguably it was never that great to begin with.

Fear was planted in this election. The fear of the ‘other’. The type of fear that quite frankly belongs in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Yet, it resurfaced anyway. And why? Because it never left. It was just waiting to be reignited all over again.

In this election, the America that believes in working hard to earn and maintain the best possible life for yourself and your nuclear family, decided that anyone who was not white, straight or able-bodied had no place in this so-called ‘greatest country on Earth’.

The right-wing media perpetuated, and continues to spoon-feed the electorate the claim that any person of colour is automatically feckless, violent, even ‘Anti-American’. Thus, conservative paternalism is necessary – a strong government that will make the right…or should I say white decisions. The decisions that will benefit John Doe from the back and beyond of the country. John Doe, who has no political awareness himself, John Doe who claims that minorities can sometimes be accepted because ‘he knew an alright “coloured” guy once’ but John Doe who states diversity of religion and culture is overall completely averse to American life. This is why hate crimes, steeply on the rise since the election, can continue to take place.

America is an individualist state. Since its liberation from British rule, it has prided itself on this fact. But in its individualism, it has, overall, been ignorant to the cries of the oppressed, the pleas from other countries around the world, indeed the initial jibes about the country’s stupidity.

Racism, sexism, ableism and homophobia have never gone away. It wasn’t too long ago that slavery was still a reality, that women did not have suffrage, that disabled people were shunned from society and that homosexuality was a crime. Yet, despite the steps we have taken to tackle these issues, there is still a strand of society that chooses to hold onto hatred. The same society that propelled Mr. Trump to success through vitriolic attacks on people of colour and other minority groups.

People of colour voted for Trump. LGBTQ+ voted for Trump. Women voted for Trump. And this is an opinion they are entitled to, no matter how much others, including myself, may disagree. They, just like the others on a different side of the coin, considered the facts of the election and exercised their 1st and 15th Amendment democratic rights to have their say. However, when a voter fails to consider the whole picture, rather, falling victim to the sensationalism all too present within society; this is a serious issue.

Trump planted the seeds of fear during his campaign. Now, during his term, however long that may be, he will watch them germinate. With vows to “drain the swamp” of ‘undesirables’, it is difficult to say what will happen next for the American people. But despite being 4,000 miles away, it is inevitable the repercussions will be felt on British shores.

Although it would be easy to remain negative, there is still hope. A large percentage of the older generation voted Trump. This may mean, in the nicest way possible, that these opinions are on their way out. Other statistical information, whilst slightly less encouraging, provides a bigger picture of where education must now overcome ignorance. The electoral picture may have been different if thousands were not disenfranchised for a criminal record – it just so happens that African-Americans are more likely to be prosecuted. And Mrs. Clinton would have been successful if it had not been for the Electoral College system.

This time around, progression was on the ballot, justice was on the ballot, equality was on the ballot. Fear and hatred won this time. But, perhaps, with more campaigning and education, and more initiatives – such as I Rise – providing a voice for the marginalised, one day, the arc of history we so observantly watch may just bend towards justice.

rebekah

Rebekah Evans is a first year English Literature student at King’s College, London. She writes comment pieces.

Photo: Reuters/Nick Oxford

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irisemagazine

I RISE Magazine is an online platform dedicated to showcasing the stories, talents and trials of women of colour and non-binary people of colour in educational institutions. Our aim is to collectively represent, lead the way and inspire ourselves and future generations.

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