OK, black folks, now let’s get in formation ….
We’ve been in a fog of anxiety since November 8, 2016, and rightfully so. A bigoted, lying misogynist is now president of these United States.
Be clear: We have always been red-headed stepchildren in a country that doesn’t love us. Shackled, kidnapped, bought and sold, whipped, lynched, stopped and frisked. With all the gains we’ve made as a community, as a people, still, in 2017, 36 percent of our children live in poverty (compared to 12 percent of white children), a toxic condition that sets them up for failure and poor health later in life. We are five times more likely to die at the end of police officer’s gun, while the officers involved in these killings are rarely indicted and never convicted. Because of racial disparities at every step of the criminal justice system, we (along with our Latinx brothers and sisters) make up 56 percent of incarcerated people, though combined we are just 30 percent of the United States population.
Health disparities contribute to us being born sicker and spending more of our lives with chronic health conditions, leading us to our graves at much younger ages.
Check the history. Whenever we make gains—emancipation, Civil Rights, voting rights, health care—there follows a period of racial animus. Just when we think we’ve overcome, we’re undercut.
And today, a fascist demagogue takes control of the most powerful country in the world, surrounded by a posse of white supremacists, unqualified cronies and science deniers. In the eight weeks since his election, we’ve already seen—and experienced personally—a rise in hate crimes. Steps to roll back seven years of gains in health care were initiated before the inauguration. Should those in power succeed in repealing Obamacare, goodbye free preventive screenings, well-woman care, coverage for pre-existing conditions and staying on parents’ insurance until age 26; hello teeming masses of uninsured and unchecked health-care costs.
The sketchy governance platform this administration presented before the election appears to be exactly what we feared: an anti-Robin Hood slate of laws and taxes designed to steal money from the less fortunate and fatten the bank accounts of the uber wealthy. Civil rights will return to the back of the bus, and they’ve already gutted voting rights. Hell, with his tiny hands on the nuclear codes, uninformed jawing with China and a suspect relationship with Russia, Trump might lead us into another war. Anybody want to hazard three guesses (first two don’t count) about what color bodies will fill the boots on the ground? Forget a four-year term; will the country even still exist by next Christmas?
Terrified? We are. With the words “one day at a time, sweet Jesus” on our lips, we’re struggling just to make it through the inauguration. (Note: A number of museums across the country are offering free emotional balm today—from yoga and resistance speeches to a Peace Ball honoring previous progress and a marathon reading of Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again.”) But beyond today, how do we the people survive Trump? Will the love, faith, courage and strength our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents summoned to make it through the Middle Passage, slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement be enough to sustain us?
Activists say yes. We’ve been here—in fact, somewhere much worse—before, and, in many ways, we’ve never left. And though we’re tempted to run screaming into the night, yelling a journalist’s pessimistic creed: “no one gets out of life alive,” we won’t. With a lot of self-care, unity and getting in protest formation, we will remain unbowed and unbroken. As Whoopi Goldberg’s character Guinan said on an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” resistance is not futile. #blacklivesmatter #blackhealthmatters