My Black History 2016-2017: Trump

I was working at a Christian school on the dark and depressing day that Donald Trump became president. I was heartened by the number of colleagues who came to my office to check on me that Wednesday morning. Those friends understood that Trump’s win did not feel like a win for people of color. I was grateful for their support, but I still sat under a blanket all evening, posting every anti-Trump video I could find.

If you voted for Trump, I do not hate you nor blame you for what I felt. You need to know that when I speak against his racism, I am not speaking against you or calling you a racist.  Many Christians voted policy over person. I get that and I respect that. But Michael Emerson, a prominent research scholar on race and the evangelical church, was quoted in this article. He described the 2016 election as “the single most harmful event to the whole movement of reconciliation in at least the past 30 years.” I completely agree, and here’s why:

Trump launched his candidacy by demonizing a people group, characterizing Mexican immigrants as murderers and rapists. As appalling as it was, I had hoped it was an isolated slip-up. It wasn’t. Even if we ignore his prior record of housing discrimination, the way he excoriated the Central Park 5, and his incessant demand for Obama’s birth certificate, Donald Trump consistently casts brown people as criminal, stupid, and dirty. From the Muslim ban, to the shithole countries, to NFL SOB’s, to dumb Don Lemon, and low-IQ Maxine Waters, Mr. Trump’s shameless scorn for people of color is making America hate again.

In Virginia where I live, hate crimes rose year over year from 137 in 2016, to 202 in 2017. Here’s a screenshot from the state police report that breaks down the 2017 data:

Christians should not ignore this data and pretend it has no meaning. I certainly didn’t have the luxury of ignoring anti-black sentiments during the summer of 2017 when the Klan and the Alt-right adopted Charlottesville as their venue for terror. Imagine what it’s like to devise an action plan with your children ahead of a hate group’s arrival to the town where they live. Imagine what it’s like to be huddled with your daughters watching death plow through the very street where they work.

Many people were surprised by what happened that day, but I was not surprised. I know from American history that when leaders normalize the degradation of a people group, it ignites the kind of depraved impulses that slaughter Native Americans, enslave blacks, inter the Japanese, and characterize immigrants as criminal.

In all my life, I have never felt the kind of insecurity and fear I have had to fight since Trump was elected. And I refuse to keep silent about his racism in the name of prayer and honoring people in authority. Moses’s mother certainly didn’t honor Pharaoh in Exodus Chapter 2 when she hid her son to protect him from death. And why did Pharaoh hatch his wicked plan to kill the Jewish babies? Because he feared Egyptians were being outnumbered.

Today’s white nationalists have the same fear about the browning of America. Racist sentiments that were in the shadows for decades have found new life and pride in the Trump era:

The reason why Trump’s election has set back racial reconciliation is not because racists are so vocal, but because evangelicals are so silent.

We can do better. It’s possible to want strong immigration laws without demonizing immigrants. It’s also possible to be glad Trump aligns with some biblical values while being loud and clear that racism does not align.

The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19.34

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