- Letters & Opinions
Since its launch in 1961, Transition has been a vibrant, international forum for the exchange of ideas and our Letters to the Editor section has featured some of the most impassioned and memorable expressions the journal has offered. In this issue, this section features responses to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Letters and Opinions up to 1000 words in length can be sent submitted to email@example.com for consideration, with the subject line Letter to the Editor.
The Day After
The first thing that came to my mind when I woke up yesterday morning, the first morning of Trump’s America, was an incident that happened to me a few months ago. I was riding the escalator after work and someone dug his shoulder into me and pushed. I almost fell before I caught myself. This happened so quickly that for a moment I almost believed it didn’t happen. But then I saw him moving swiftly up the stairs. Propelled by anger and curiosity, I followed him. He was waiting for me when I arrived at the top. He stood there glowering at me. I glowered back. He was white, and he looked to be about fifty years old. I asked him why he pushed me. He said because he felt like it. Then he began to lecture me—he said “I’m so sick of people like you.” That’s what he said. “People like you.” I looked at him as if for the first time. He was dressed nicely—he was wearing a suit and tie and shiny black shoes. He looked like he could have been my co-worker. And even as he continued to say vile things to me, things about my skin color and my lack of intelligence, I could not stop thinking that his appearance was merely a disguise. He was showing me who he actually was. His eyes were red and foam coated his lips. Why was he so angry, I wondered?
Later that night, after I had recovered somewhat, it occurred to me that this man felt emboldened to assault me because the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States, Donald Trump, routinely said vile things on the campaign trail about people of color, and disabled people, about women, about, well, anyone who isn’t like him. And for a moment I was tempted to fall into despair, but then I remembered that we had a black president, and America has made so much progress in the past few years. Yes, I told myself, these things happen. But America is getting better.
Yesterday morning I woke up more depressed than I have been in years. I could barely move. Donald Trump was no longer just a candidate—in a few months he will be the President of the United States. And everything that he seems to represent—misogyny, racism, intolerance—will travel to the White House with him.
I know—I believe—that America can withstand this. I believe we can survive Trump. But for now I feel a despair so deep that it’s hard to shape it into something resembling hope. Trump’s victory feels like an old order is reasserting itself. An order that says people like me are meaningless. I feel like America has shoved me to the floor and I have no idea how I’ll get up. [End Page 5]
But I will. We will. And, as sad as I am now, I know this election is a great opportunity. Those of us who feel disappointed and terrified and disgusted can build a resistance movement from scratch. We have an opportunity to create a new America.
It will be hard. We will be pushed around. But we will get up again and again, because we must.
This response was specially commissioned by and broadcast on the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme and Africa Today podcast. To hear Tope read this piece, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04fw042