On bringing Black kids into a world where the president-elect is saluted with ‘Hail Trump!’
I have insulated myself from much of the political hullabaloo this election season for mental health reasons. Yet, there are just some days where events transpire that I can’t simply unsee, unknow, or ignore. Today is one of those days.
Yesterday, The Atlantic published a video of a known Neo-Nazi named Richard Spencer who is also the President of the National Policy Institute in Washington, DC – a white nationalist “think tank” billed under the newly popular “alt-right” moniker. In the footage taken on November 19th, Spencer addresses a relatively large crowd (that looks to be mostly white men) about the legitimacy of Donald J. Trump’s election. He calls the media a “dark power” that is “genuinely stupid.” He questions whether or not these “people are really people at all” or actually “soulless Golem.”
Spencer explains that for white people, they must “conquer or die” and rallies his compatriots with statements like:
“To be white, is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer and a conqueror. We build. We produce. We go upward. And we recognize a central lie of American race relations: We don’t exploit other groups. We don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us and not the other way around.”
All the while, Spencer receives praise in the form of Nazi salutes, cheers, and guttural yells from those in his company.
Frankly, I found the footage chilling. As a mother of three Black children, the symbols and social phenomena stemming from this particular election have thoroughly unsettled me. Most specifically, seeing a resurgence of Nazism and outright racial hatred was something that, though I knew it could happen, I had hoped it would not.
I watched the men in the video pat one another’s backs as if to say “yes, my racist and violent brother. I stand with you.” At other times, I noticed that their prostrate fingers shot up much like my outstretched and open hand does in the sanctuary on Sundays. It was a sermon for them. Their cruel, rotten manna. Spencer was their messiah and his message was of my demise. It was like watching in real life all the things I wanted to believe only really existed when movies were newly Technicolor and blackface was an acceptable form of art. I whispered out loud to myself, “Why did I bring children into this? What was I thinking?” I asked myself this question half-honestly, half-out-of-despairedly. Then, I asked it again after I stopped asking it.
I am still rocked, rocked to my core by the viscerality this video triggered in me. The ball in my throat. The sadness in my eyes. The disappointment, mostly disappointment, with the country that continues to make promises it never intends to keep. Then it hit me: I actually don’t believe anymore. I don’t think I believe in this place.
Like that violent and craven lover who says they love you but harms you everyday. Like that friend who never has honesty in their eyes. Like the parent who abandons. Like that job that won’t pay fair wages. Like that “safe space” full of unsafe people. I. Don’t. Believe. In. America. I can’t.
Nonetheless, I have children to raise. Whose eyes full of hope I keep having to dim: when another Black person is killed by police, when another politician says we shouldn’t have full dignity, when another video drops, when another school closes, when another natural disaster turns into an intentional one, when another president-elect is chosen precisely because he is the embodiment of au naturale, organic, steam-pressed evil.
“He hates us,” I keep thinking to myself while I struggle to hold on to something, something so that my children won’t see America the same way they see Santa Claus. Like a place of fable, a never actualizing being that says all the right things, knows all the rules, orders our lives for an imaginary reward only to never show up when it counts.
I am raising my kids in a country that hates them. A country where my choice to exist is an act of revolution. And, my decision to love and be loved, mother and be mothered, nurture and be nurtured will always ALWAYS be a revolutionary act. This is the hardest and most important thing I will ever do with my life. So, I no longer have time to squander waiting for America to show up for me. I have not one second remaining for that fool’s errand.
I am the one my children have been waiting for, not America. I guess it took ‘Hail Trump’ for me to truly figure that out.
Image via YouTube