As Hillary Clinton’s loss became real to the thousands gathered in Wellesley’s Fieldhouse, I overheard a brief exchange between two Wellesley College employees. The woman asked her male coworker how he felt about a Trump win. He told her he voted for Hillary Clinton, but whatever happened it wouldn’t make any difference. She said she wished she could say the same, but she feared a Trump presidency would make a huge difference in her life and not for the better. She was Latina.
Her fear is shared by millions of Americans of color across the country. Almost immediately #Trump is not my president was hurling through cyberspace at warp speed. For many this rejection of the President-elect was not about his politics, but about his demonstrated wink and a nod acceptance of avowed white supremacists. Not to mention his history of housing discrimination, challenging President Obama’s citizenship, and out of bound statements about Muslims, Latinos and African-Americans. One online user with the username "Madison" tweeted, “Trump did not win, racism won, sexism won, hate won.”
The millions of white working class voters may insist that Donald Trump’s appeal was his populist message of jobs and America-first trade policies, but people of color are clear that much of his language and actions were coated with a not so thin veneer of racism. I certainly can’t see where the populism ends and the racism begins. People of color have borne the brunt of the anger by many white voters who blame us for stunting their economic progress. A South Carolina exit poll asked voters, if "blacks are getting too demanding in their push for equal rights.” The political science professor who drew up the questionnaire said he wanted to measure whether race had a bearing on voting patterns. South Carolina’s solid core of white Trump voters was a resounding answer.
Racism married to sexism drove a gender/racial voting divide. Women of all races voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, but most of the vaunted white male voters rebuffed her pantsuit revolution. On election night CNN Democratic commentator Van Jones emotionally described, “A white-lash against a changing country and against a black president. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen was more plainspoken, “For some Americans, and this is painful to admit — a woman following a black man to the White House was simply too much to swallow.”
I’m scared. I looked at the scene at President-elect Trump’s victory celebration, and, with rare exception, didn’t see anybody who looked like me or other folks of color. I’m talking about regular folk — not the prominent bought and paid for mouthpieces and political suck-ups. So I’m left to grapple with the fact that half the country is okay with someone who doesn’t see anything concerning about that. I don’t know how that changes, but I truly truly want the President-elect’s promise to be the president of all the people to be true.
I’m seeking solace now in remembering my comeback from times I’ve been knocked to my knees in grief. When I finally stop sobbing and regain my emotional equilibrium, I am stunned to see that life goes on and time has not stopped. Despite devastating heartbreak, I’m still standing. Right now I think that’s the best I can do.