5 Things We Need White People to Do After Trump's Election

by Koko Ntuen Like most Americans, I barely slept on the night of November 8. I went to bed with severe anxiety and a nagging feeling in m...

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by Koko Ntuen

Like most Americans, I barely slept on the night of November 8. I went to bed with severe anxiety and a nagging feeling in my gut that there was a big possibility that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. My dad had told me, “It’s politics, kid. Anything can happen.” My husband, in order to offset my panic attacks the weeks prior, kept referring to the polIs of CNN and The New York Times, which subsequently ended up as sources of disappointment to us, in both the accuracy of the election and the media circus they maintained throughout the whole thing.

I woke up at 2am, saw that Donald had won Ohio and knew it was a done deal. I was used to walking around in the shit of America, but now it was as if someone grabbed me by the hair and made me smell it up close. When my initial anger, annoyance and sadness settled, I was left with the type of validation that happens when you get diagnosed with something after years of trying to verify the symptoms. I was euphoric even, wanting to shout from the rooftops, "See I’m not crazy! America does have a problem!" The looming discrimination that had shadowed my entire Black life was now front and center and the whole world would have to take notice.
The morning of November 9, my Facebook feed was full of frustration, horror, and shocked white citizens who could not believe the racial climate in America. Scrolling through the proclamations of anger, defeat, and sadness, a familiarity was highlighted that made me feel closer to the white community than I had in years. The same fear, frustration, invalidation, and disenfranchisement, was a struggle that people of color experience on some scale every day. I decided a long time ago not to let this fear and anger control my life, otherwise, I would be paralyzed. People of color were prepared to face November 9 regardless of what happened. White people were not.

We have to be honest with ourselves not just in the face of a political electoral crisis, but in our daily lives leading up to the process. The propaganda of cis white male hood runs far deeper than Donald Trump. He is merely one face of a game that is deep rooted and colonized throughout the world. The same suspension of belief that lead people to think Donald Trump would be a good president are the same mindsets that subscribe to the archetypes of perfection as any kind of whiteness.

So, to my sad and shocked Facebook friends who can't “believe” that Donald Trump will be the next president of the greatest Nation on earth, here are a few things to incorporate into your lives from a grassroots level up so you can understand why some people of color barely flinched with the election announcement.


DO YOU INTERACT WITH ANY PEOPLE OF COLOR? IF SO HAVE YOU EVER SPOKEN WITH THEM ABOUT RACIAL ISSUES IN AMERICA?

It’s very easy to say you are not racist when you are enclosed in a bubble of privilege. I spent  most of my life as the “token black” in many social, educational, and professional settings, and I can count on one hand the times any of my white counterparts have ever inquired about my experiences as a Black woman in America despite the obvious disparities in our communities. Most times, issues of race would be uncomfortably ignored. I can, however, fill a house of memories with the amount of discourse I’ve had about how racism is a thing of the past, affirmative action was unwarranted, one can't be racist if you have Black friends, etc, etc. If you give people of color a chance to talk about the oppression that frequently plagues their lives, you will be able to be a more integral part of society and the change that comes from within it.


DO YOU HIRE BLACK PEOPLE? IF SO, DO DO YOU MAKE THEIR RACE AN ISSUE AT WORK?
Studies have shown that the resumes with Back or ethnic sounding names are most likely to be tossed in the trash. I can attest to the fact that during my professional life there have been countless times I have shown up to an interview with my semi-ambiguous sounding name and saw the person’s shock upon seeing my tall, dark stature. Working in the fashion, media and publishing industry, I've felt excluded because of my skin color. These micro-aggressions have left a lasting dent in my ability to trust the workforce. Why do you think black women entrepreneurs are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America?


WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WROTE TO YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE ABOUT AN ISSUE THAT IMPACTS A COMMUNITY YOU'RE NOT A PART OF?
Yes, your voice matters. Democracy builds on participation and information. If there is one thing we have learned from this election is that there are a lot of Americans who didn't vote. Nearly half of the population to be exact. Over 11,000 people voted for Harambe, a dead gorilla! These missing votes are part of the missing puzzle pieces to make a democratic society, they went unheard. These votes and unused power can be used at a basic level to start change. What early exit polls are showing is that 88 percent of black voters backed Hillary Clinton. I don’t have to state the obvious. Take a moment to write a letter to your congressman, engage with issues more tangible than Facebook and spread the word. Through the tools of communication and empathy, we can learn to promote and value the civic elements our fellow man needs to have a good life.

PLEASE TREAT BLACK PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS
In American society, we limit Black lives in so many ways. "Good blacks" don't talk about racial inequalities. They sound “white.” They are not angry.  "Bad blacks" raise uncomfortable topics that threaten the status quo. Maybe they belong in jail because they listen to rap and wear a du-rag or support the Black Lives Matter Movement. These stereotypes are hurtful and racist.  I have had to defend my personality, the music I listen to, books I read and the way I talk. I have also received praise for blending in so seamlessly with white culture--as if I deserve a prize for such a thing. Being accepted by the white community is not something anyone should be made to feel like they need to aspire to.


IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!
Do you talk to your family members about their views and hold them accountable? I have had so many white friends confide in me and apologize to me for their family being racist. I don't care! If you are willing to fight for your liberal ways on Facebook, you should also be willing to fight for them at the dinner table even if it's uncomfortable. Recently, Frank Navarro, a history teacher in California was suspended for comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler. He says, “To stand quiet in the face of bigotry and to turn your eyes away from it is to back up the bigotry.”


Koko Ntuen is a first-generation Nigerian designer and editor based in New York and Stockholm, Sweden. She is the founder of the music, fashion & indie-culture magazine LADYGUNN and the heritage athletics and accessory line, Koko Celeste. In her spare time, she enjoys reading comic books, studying black feminist media theory, devouring pop culture, having fun, and producing beautiful insightful work that creates dialogue amongst various communities.

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