Donald Trump’s presidential win has ushered in a new era of White supremacy so palpable that the only place I feel physically, psychologically and emotionally safe is in my house. Luckily, for me, I am afforded the opportunity to work from home, so I need not venture out and confront the outside world and political climate too frequently. Still, occasionally I am forced to leave. And it is in those moments where I venture out that I am forced to reckon with the damaging reality of being Black in America in the era of Trump.
Over the weekend, I was watching my soon-to-be three-year old nephew when I decided we should go to a local park for some fun. Needless to say, he was excited and down. He put on his fresh, new brown Eddie Bauer boots and sunglasses to match.
“Ohhh yeaahh!” he said, while donning the glasses.
Yeah, he thinks he is real cool.
We traversed busy streets, talking about whether the dark illustrations in the book “Plant Pet” were or were not indeed “sfooky” or “scccarrryy”, according to him.
“No Aunty Tibby!” he declared, “plant pet not sfooky; it’s just a booook.”
The debate was over with that declaration, so hand-in-hand, we entered the park ready to play. Within moments, he spotted two other little boys a bit much younger than him. He began to make his way over to one of them, a little blue-eyed white boy with a tall, blonde-ish, red-haired mother. I could sense her immediate discomfort.
“Hi! I’m Maarrcus!” my nephew began to the boy who could barely toddle. The boy looked hard at my nephew for a moment, then turned around and began teetering away on a mission to pick up a leaf.
“Awe man!” Marcus exclaimed, disappointed that the baby didn’t respond.
He followed the baby and attempted an introduction once more.
“Hi baby!” my nephew said.
The baby didn’t even pay attention at all this time.
“Aweee! Bahdebhahd me faffded,” my nephew babbled incoherently.
“Did you just say ‘stop being a pest!” the white baby’s mother interjected, leaning in towards my nephew aggressively. I stepped in closer, just in case I had to set her straight. She had no reason to be talking to my nephew and he most assuredly never said anything about a pest.
“Nooooooo,” Marcus clapped back,”I didn’t sayyy no pess!”
“Oh, ok,” the White woman responded, fixing her posture and standing straight. I gave her a confused look, but then just settled down and let it slide. After all, she just got told off by my baby nephew who wasn’t afraid to stand his ground with her.
I grabbed Marcus’s hand and lead him away towards some stairs leading up to a slide. We slid down the slide together, played pretend giants in a castle, made fake pizza out of leaves and then, eventually, my nephew grew tired of me and wanted some younger company. He bolted back towards the baby and stood in front of him with a shy, quiet look on his face.
“Padeedee my gooshed gob…” he started in gibberish again.
“What?” the mother chimed in, “white pig!?”
I quickly made my way over to my nephew, grabbed his hand and escorted him back to the other side of the park. When I told my family about it, they were upset I didn’t curse her out, but it was not even worth it for me. What was the point, anyways? I didn’t have the energy to expend on getting angry at every racist encounter, especially because they are happening with such a frequency that I could get swept up in a tornado of rage and fury if I allow it to get to me.
Bigotry has won the moment. There is no fighting that. I resign myself to seclusion, avoidance, denial and delusion instead.
So when, like recently, I made the mistake of sitting at a bar where a 67-year-old White man proudly told me he voted for Trump and then proceeded to also ask me to go to another bar with him because he “likes exotic island women,” I just quietly nodded and retreated to my home. When a Black man sat next to me at Starbucks and began to talk about the validity of Trump wanting to register all Muslims because “they are terrorists,” paying no mind at all to the fact that White supremacy is the biggest threat to Black safety, I nodded quietly and retreated to my house. When White women project their angst, fear and racism onto Black bodies– including those of children– I pretend I don’t hear and just walk away.
In the Trump era, there is no point in trying to fight against the type of racism and bigotry that must be endured everyday. That battle has already been lost.
We have to save our energy for what is to come. The fight to survive the next four years and thrive far beyond that.