Watching the U.S. presidential election devolve into the clusterfuck it has over the last several weeks has been the cherry on top of what has been an absolute gong show of a year in 2020…well, some parts have been anyway. What has struck me more than anything, (and I must admit there is a sick sort of fascination by the absurdity of it all), is how this one man (Donald Trump) has completely bullied not only an entire political party, but really anyone that opposes him at any level of government, in any country, anywhere. This one man has singlehandedly caused Vladimir Putin (yes, you read that correctly), to side with the American people and decree that Donald Trump must accept the will of the people and concede the election. Now, you damn well know how fucked up shit has to be for Vladimir Putin to side with the American people and constitution on ANYTHING. But alas, here we are. As the saying goes amongst my generation and the one after us…#2020 *shrug*.
Being a Black female in Toronto, I’ve grown up witnessing my fair share of white boy meltdowns and temper tantrums over the years. As a matter of fact, there was a public one captured at a Walmart out in Winnipeg just last week, where a white man beat up a disabled employee simply because the employee asked him to wear a mask inside the store. The more disturbing part of the story is the fact that everyone stood around and watched this 300lbs man sit on top of a disabled person and pummel him repeatedly, and no one did anything to stop him. But of course, they took the time to record it all. A few people tried “talking to him” as if that was going to get him to stop abusing the employee. Eventually, he stopped on his own and was arrested shortly thereafter. But the damage had already been done. Everyone stood around and watched this white man, who refused to wear a mask and decided to take his anger out on another human being in the most vile way possible, beat another vulnerable human almost to a pulp. This reminded me so much of what I feel like I’m witnessing everyday I turn on the news in America. Since the day of the election, I have watched primarily white men in the U.S. Senate stand around and do absolutely fuck all while Donald Trump figuratively pummels the American people into the ground. He mercilessly turns his back on the citizens he was elected to lead and protect by refusing to sign any stimulus package to help the most vulnerable especially going into the holiday season. He’s more interested in playing golf than he is in governance, unless of course he is trying to pardon one of his former lackeys or tear down another Obama-era accomplishment.
To watch another human being do viciously spiteful things on a daily basis that hugely impact so many people just because they have the power to and can is very triggering, traumatizing and infuriating for me, especially as a Black woman. We all know that most white men get away with pretty much anything and everything provided they have resources (money) and connections. That is the power of white supremacy and the patriarchy. But there was this illusion (lie) that many white people told themselves existed, particularly in the US. The lie was that the rule of law, societal traditions and common decency were valuable commodities and where what was upheld above anything else. For a time, America got really good at putting on the blinders to the myriad of issues that Black, Indigenous and other POC have known existed since the inception of what is known as America. We have always known that the playing field was never level. We always knew that white men in power would do anything they could to maintain that power. We just thought there would be a modicum of restraint when they did so. Watching what Donald Trump did to effectively highjack the Republican party and pull back the curtain and fully expose the dark, ugly underbelly of anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, the patriarchy and homophobia that runs deep within the conservative wing was disturbing not because these where things I didn’t already know about both him and Republicans; but rather, it was the ease with which many of these white men turned a blind eye, became total hypocrites in some cases and outright lied in others to keep and maintain their power that scared me more than anything.
This has been the same story throughout recent human history. A select few white men in power, wielding that power and influence over people they feel are lesser than them; and then some other white men who have very little power recognizing the limited power of their “whiteness” and wielding that in whatever ways prove fortuitous for them. These are the stories you read about in the history books. I never imagined for one moment I’d actually be watching the President of the United States in my life time engage in the sort of behavior Donald Trump did and continues to do. I learned to accept who and what he is a long time ago. He’s not my focus or concern at all. My concern is with the other branches of government that were supposed to be a checks and balances on the Executive Branch. I thought the whole point of a democracy was to ensure it never became an autocracy or dictatorship. So what exactly happened? When did the Senate become a place where there is no longer compromise, reaching across the aisle and actually working together to get things done? When did law markers put party loyalty and politics over basic decency and kindness? I remember listening to a clip of Senator Lindsey Graham at a debate prior to the election, where he said something to the effect of “there will always be a place for you here (in South Carolina) as long as you are a Republican.” I think about how a man who thinks like that just got re-elected to his Senate seat in South Carolina, and by a landslide. How is it that someone like that is making decisions on behalf of a diverse state? How is it that in 2020, men like Senator Graham believe they have the right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body? How did we allow that to happen?
The answer is greed and fear. Capitalism, the foundation of America and the very system most U.S. Senators will go to their graves defending, is the single root for the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The relentless supply and demand by white Europeans for sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa and other crops mined from the Caribbean, India, Africa and other Indigenous lands contributed to the Slave Trade enslaving my ancestors for profit. Murdering people and slaughtering cultures, for profit and cruelty. Enslaving and then wiping out hundreds of Indigenous tribes in the Caribbean and hundreds of thousands of people in the process. All for capitalism. I remember being in 9th grade and having a social studies teacher tell me that America was the greatest county in the world because it was a capitalist society and country, and capitalism (in his limited view) was the greatest political, socio and economic system in the world. Him being a white Italian American, I can understand from his perspective why he might see things that way. Some non-Black POC might even agree, as they are considered the “model citizens” and usually are rewarded with access to capital, resources and funding for starting new businesses more so than Black people do. But for Black people, capitalism is a system that has denigrated us and relegated us to being legally considered 3/5th a person. We were enslaved for and because of capitalism. And while there are a select few of us making the most of capitalism now, it is never without a cost.
Black people in some cases have sold our culture, ourselves, our talents, etc. for capitalism. We’ve prostituted ourselves in different ways at times to make money because we know the sting of hunger and lack. While not all of us grew up in poverty directly, we usually are not too many generations removed from it. It shapes us and who we are. It shapes our communities and the resources we make available to each other. Success in capitalism in and of itself is not enough for POC, specifically Black people. We’ve seen and know all too well that even the richest, wealthiest most successful Black people are still subject to harassment from law enforcement no matter how much money they have. Being wealthy doesn’t save you. The missing piece is the white supremacy and racism coupled with it. This is why the U.S. Senate, which is comprised of mostly white men, are willing to tolerate Donald Trump’s bad behavior. This is why they refuse to condemn him when he says and does horrific things as the President of the United States. As poetically stated by none-other than Mitch McConnell recently when asked why he doesn’t condemn and denounce Donald Trump’s baseless lies abut the election being rigged and mass voter fraud, his answer was “I’ve got two senate races in Georgia I’m worried about.” That simple statement let’s you know pretty much everything you need to about the future of the Republican party and democracy as we know it. Republicans are more concerned with attaining and maintaining power than they do actual ethics, following the law or integrity. Most of them do not seem inclined or interested in racial justice, and that term as now been designated a “liberal” “left wing” term; which implies that most Republicans are not impacted or bothered by racial injustice. Which again reaffirms why they are silent on his bad behaviour, no matter how heinous it may be. Yet, we all know that if President Obama, or another Black president said even a fraction of the things Donald Trump has said, they’d have legit been impeached.
The levels that we as a society will sink to to protect our money; the ways we can and will turn a blind eye or have a hands off attitude about finding real solutions and affecting real change, yet will funnel billions of dollars into private prisons because we get to make money off of them is truly disheartening and disappointing. I’m very aware that there are a lot of great things happening in the world in terms of social justice. I’m aware nothing is going to change overnight and it’ll take us many years before we can actually see the affects of these changes. I’m just tired of waiting. I’m tired of seeing how in Toronto, residents in my city were able to raise over $287,000 for the rebellious owner of a food restaurant who refused to shutdown during the pandemic or wear a mask, yet we can’t find the money to help the youth community programs, or find sustainable housing for homeless individuals. The food banks are running low and we can’t find money for that…but we can find money to bail out and pay for the legal fees of an asshole who doesn’t want to wear a mask and protect his own clientele.
Something about the setup of our current world order seems very out of whack. I truly hope with the Georgia Senate runoff elections coming up that more of our Black community wakes up and understands the power of their vote and that voting down the ballot absolutely matters. It is time for our elected leaders to not only look like America, but to reflect the courage and bravery American people naturally have. It takes courage and bravery to stand up to a bully. While the bully that is Trump will be gone in less than 50 days, he will still be around and Republicans are going to have to learn how to deal with him. Just like in primary or secondary school when there was a bully, at some point we all had to learn to face that bully and find a way to survive. While we might get punched in the figurative face, it was worth it to stand up to the bully. Republicans will never be forgotten for being a bunch of weak, spineless men and women who didn’t have the courage or bravery to stand up to a tyrant. May the history books never be kind to their rotten legacy.