Perched in the Santa Ynez mountains of Santa Barbara, California there is a small boarding school positioned between land and sea that shaped and molded my formative years.
As a Black woman raised in predominately White schools, there was a thin veil of acceptance that covered my privileged experience. My diverse friends–rich, poor, White, Jew, Asian, Mexican, Christian, gay, atheist were so close to me that it was damn near familial. Under the banner of community, my friends’ families hosted me in their homes over long weekends when I couldn’t afford to go home. We commiserated over campus chores and complained about the boring dining hall food. We ate together, trained together, hosted sleep overs, learned together and grew up together casually in this academic utopia.
At 14, I didn’t fully grasp the rarity of this level of diverse interaction. Even coming from a racially and economically segregated community, the pretty, bubble experience made me believe in rainbow unity. It’s the stuff admission brochures are made of, except it’s real and not staged.
The veil suddenly began to tear once I entered college. My friend groups got dramatically Blacker the older I became. Suddenly those subtle micro aggressions I was only minutely privy to in high school turned macro as I watched Black women be mocked by White frat boys, athletes objectified and dehumanized by their school, and classmates boldly volunteer their ignorance during group discussions.
Even within this context, there were pockets of hope. I met White women and White men with whom I bonded over our academic pursuits, faith, values, dreams. In this exchange of life, I fell into the cushioned comfort of understanding. I lived under the impression that I had a strong, rainbow coalition of people on my side, who, despite our differences, respected and cared for the things that I cared for. They were rooting for me and I sure as hell was rooting for them.
But just like in a black and white venn diagram, where the grey area illustrates a space for merged humanity, our relationships clearly did not account for the stark differences in how we experienced the world.
That reality became blindingly clear as I watched friend after friend proudly proclaim their Trump support, despite his persistent advocacy for hatred against the lives of Black people, immigrants and women. And in this uptick of alt-right support, I questioned if the people I loved and befriended for years of my life ever saw me at all.
If you saw me as a Black woman, you can’t simply shrug off the hate this man has for people of color and women, and the men that I love as a “joke.”
If you understood and loved me as a sister, you can’t possibly cast a vote for a man who reduces my experience to a ‘hellish, urban’ existence.
Somehow, my friends chose to rationalize their political decisions immersed in so much Whiteness, they actually couldn’t see how this decision harmed and hurt the very people they claim to love.
In this dissonance, it is clear the last 8 years cradled us in the farce of progressiveness. Let’s keep it funky. A Black man walked his Black ass and his Black-ass family and Black-ass children into that White House and we thought America’s bloodthirsty diet was changing. But 8 years passed and it was time to feed the beast.
And now, in the disillusioned cloud of this election one year later, I fear the beast was sitting hungry next to me all along. Holding hands with me and smiling in my face as we conversed over breakups and grades and our frivolous social lives.
Because ‘Making America Great Again’ in Trump’s dystopian view meant returning to a time when Black protesters were carried out on stretchers and women could be arrested for exercising their right to choose. It meant it was acceptable for Black men and women to be racially profiled in the name of law and order. It meant women were toys you could ‘grab by the pussy’ without repercussions. And 63% of White men and 53% of White women cosigned, endorsed and suckled on this venom, and had the nerve to look up to say ‘it doesn’t taste so bad’ in the name of “change.”
The republican base prides itself on aligning with a candidate who shares their values and traditions. So let’s get one thing straight, Trump is who you are. Voting decisions are personal and you cannot conveniently clear your name from his platform of hatred in the name of politics. You are Pontius Pilate. You cosigned, endorsed and voted for hate, and if that’s what you agree with, I don’t know you. And I never did.