In the almost five weeks since the election of Trump, it has still been hard to grapple with reality. The fear is real in that, no matter how predictable it all looks, it is still an unknowable equation. In these five weeks, I have stopped being surprised. Talking with the many friends who feel this effect more deeply and more personally than I, it is impossible to overlook their sadness to see, not just defeat, but a cruel confirmation they know loomed. Now, it was openly invited into the room and given a chair.
In these five weeks, we have seen the appointment of mostly white men who are in no way adequately capable of running a country based on unity. And, to be clear, forced peace (i.e. silencing journalists whose sole job is to keep government accountable and honest; “law and order”; a registry for ethnic religion) is not peace. We have been witness to the unruly mismanagement of a Twitter account run by the President-elect. It’s a Twitter account dedicated to upholding whatever character he believes he maintains. In this time, we have also seen the very public trial for Dylan Roof, a white supremacist, begin.
What a timeline of events for weary hearts.
With regards to Roof’s trial, what has been confusing, yet so obvious, is the route that justice takes in this. (Don’t even get me started on how he has the gall to represent himself.) While he should absolutely be behind bars and held accountable, the charges being brought against him feel eerily reminiscent.
- Nine counts of violating the Hate Crime Act resulting in death
- Three counts of violating the Hate Crime Act involving an attempt to kill
- Nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death
All italics are mine. It feels important to note that these crimes all have some sort of result or attempt that needs to be met before a charge can be brought forward. While the year 2016 was littered with crimes any clear-minded person could assign these counts to, we’ve still yet to see this happen (except in the case of Philando Castile). In South Carolina, we are being reminded that running away from a gun when you’re black does not so much convince us of wrongdoing, but confuses and stumps instead.
So, why does it take a scene at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for there to be clarity? (Although, even that is still in the hands of jurors.)
For many liberals, the outcome of the election has filled them with a crippling sense of helplessness and horror; despite taking action, they feel essentially voiceless in their own country. This is the same feeling that Muslim Americans experience all the time. In the moments after a terrorist attack, instead of grieving we must wait, in dread of hearing the perpetrator’s name. We know that we will be made to answer for something that we vehemently oppose.
– Yasmine Askari, The New Yorker in “The Mail”
Per the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the ten days after the election, 867 hate incidents were reported. Not only that, but hate crimes have been on the rise since 2014. Does this time frame feel familiar?
It — white supremacy belief — has been invited back into the room and given a chair.
Now, with validity and confidence, white supremacy belief turns into action. The countless Dylan Roof’s that already exist are disturbing. However, as of today, it seems only one has to face his day on trial for the horrific violence he committed. Because 897 hate crimes have occurred without so much as a blink from society, he is a face white culture will refer to as the the one who took the fall for others. At least someone paid the price, right?
I will never be able to forget how I felt on election day. I had full blown anxiety attack as I saw the numbers coming in. Brendan and I laid in bed on Wednesday morning talking about how scared we were to bring children into this confusing world. But as the weeks have carried on, as all the unknowns pile up, I continually find myself digging my heels in the shifting sands.
I encourage those of you who feel it’s easier to admit defeat and move on to donate, read, use your voice and writing to not let yourself go stale. My friend Ebele challenged me to channel these feelings into a “stickiness” that will not dissipate just because I can afford the ability to look the other way. So, I lean in to being uncomfortable and saying the uncomfortable. Really, is there any other way to feel when racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia — all views being normalized — are challenged?
In all of this, though, it is easy to look at the incoming news of another decision made by the president-elect and take one large gulp. However, there is a certain, undeniable sense that I have never felt firmer in the truth of Christ’s message — to love God and love Others — and to do this well. For those of us who feel the tug of disappointment as you figure out new alignment with the evangelical movement, remember that Christ spent his energies with those on the margins. He rested when he needed, but up until his death, he rejected what would be considered politically wise decisions of his day and he served.
“[The Cosmic Christ] took on everything physical, material, and natural as himself. That is the full meaning of the Incarnation. To allow such a momentous truth, to fully believe it, to enjoy it in practical ways, to suffer it with and for others – this is what it means to be Christian! Nothing else will do now. Nothing less will save the world.”
– Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations
Nothing less, friends.