I write this to you, but not for you.
I am a human being. Since birth, I have felt, like every human that has come before and will come after, solace, loneliness, joy, hope, frustration, love, doubt, loss, and every other emotion that comes with being on this earth as we are. I have also felt anger and rage, in its many manifestations. I ask that you remember this as you proceed, that my emotions are complex, as are the singular emotions when isolated. Do not forget.
On November 8th 2016, the citizens of the United States of America voted. The election resulted in Donald Trump being named President-Elect of the United States, defeating Hillary Clinton.
Like many, there was no part of me that believed Hillary would lose to Donald Trump. No part of me thought that 50 million US citizens would elect a Rapist-Sexual Predator-White Supremacist-Sexist-Misogynist-Xenophobic-Ableist-Transphobic-Homophobic-Lying-Egotistical-Fascist to the highest office of the nation. I did not believe this nightmare would ever be. Instantly, I was afraid for so many I love. The future suddenly became nebulous, uncertain, shrouded in violence and hate and fear, an abyss that is now inescapable.
But it was anger, an anger so profound, that overwhelmed me to the brink of absolute despair.
The day after, we saw the numbers. It was White America that had chosen this monster. 63% of White men, 53% of White Women. In every other demographic broken by race AND gender, White Men and Women were the only two groups that had chosen Trump over Clinton. Even if you break down the number further, they don’t look good. 48% of young White voters picked Trump to 43% for Clinton. White college graduated men voted from Trump at 54%. However you cut it, as a social group that is bound by their race and when divided by their gender, White people voted for Trump. That is fact.
Let me be clear. While I can understand why White People (or anyone) voted for Trump, what I cannot and will not accept is that people could see past (or with complete endorsement) Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, violence, and still vote for him. This man is endorsed by a terrorist organization, the KKK, chose a man who supports “Gay-Conversion Therapy” to be his Vice President, began his campaign by calling Mexicans criminals and rapists, a man who has committed sexual assault – I need not go on. But my anger was not directed exclusively at those who voted for Trump. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be writing to White People, I’d be writing to Trump supporters. My anger was directed at the fact that, again, White Supremacy won. It fooled us into believing it was on its final breaths, that we had entered a new era of only structural racism, that it was beginning to fade and crumble. I, along with millions of Americans, were so wrong.
My anger is frustratingly specific. White Supremacy, its still vicious, insidious sharp teeth took us by the neck to choke us once more, to ensure its bloody dominance over an America that had 8 years ago elected its first Black president, Barack Obama. White Supremacy, which places White People, especially White Men, at the center, won. Not a day passed when we began to feel its iron fire – it was not just “implicit bias” that touched us, it was an explicit, directed, violent hate.
The anger began to consume me, almost entirely.
I was angry at the number of White People, millions upon millions, that voted for Trump. I was angry at the white people who saw in Trump a savior for their fading White way of life. I was angry at the White People who chose to be part of organizations like the KKK and endorsed this man, aiding him to his victory, who as we speak are organizing a victory march in North Carolina. But I am not only angry at “those” White People, I am angry at every single White Person that lives in my, our, country.
I am angry at White Men, the well meaning White Men who find themselves distraught, I am angry at them because of how little they did all those times you chose not to confront White Supremacy at your college, at your job, in your home during that housewarming or dinner party. I’m angry at the White Man who told me race didn’t matter because we were in Obama’s “post race” America, the White Men who made those race-gender-sex jokes. I’m angry at the White Men who go home every Thanksgiving and don’t challenge their brothers, fathers, grandfathers. I am angry at the White Men who don’t believe rape is rape, that give all men, especially their own, the benefit of the doubt. I am angry at the White Men who believe our justice system is just. I’m angry at White Men, especially the liberal-progressive White Men, who hold so much power in this country, be it in their wealth or their position or their influence, and did so little these past two years to recognize the threat and use their power to fight against it. I’m angry at those same White Men for not proving to us we can have faith in them to fight alongside us in the battles to come. I’m angry at every single White Man for not doing their due diligence and interrogating their history to see if their White Ancestors were KKK members, on what side they fought on the civil war, who they voted for in the past, where they come from, how they were part if the institutions of slavery, reconstruction, Jim crow, and now mass incarceration, and how all of that is what made and maintains their White privilege.
I am angry at White Women for not understanding that my critique of them came from a deep love to find a truer solidarity than the fake, violent, colonial solidarity of White Feminism. I’m angry at White Women for being White Feminists, sometimes full stop, and not acknowledging it when we tell them. I’m angry at White Women for not listening to us, but especially for not listening to Black Women and Women of Color while idolizing Susan B. Anthony, a racist suffragist. I’m angry at White Women from this election who supported Hillary and felt that they needed to save us, critical people of color and allies, from ourselves instead of speaking to their Trump-endorsing sisters, daughters, and mothers. I am angry at White Women for putting their Whiteness before their Womanhood. I am angrier at the White Men who continue to subjugate you, and trick you, and make you believe that being their equal at the expense of the rest of us is what justice is. But that does not take away my anger towards you. I am still angry at you for just like White Men, failing to fight against White Supremacy and sometimes only fighting against Patriarchy, thinking the prior does not exist in conspiracy with the latter.
And here I say I am angry at Hillary Clinton. Angry at her past sins, her current ones, and that we could not choose to live in the only alternative dimension that exists somewhere in our multiverse where she holds our hands in pursuing the complete destruction of White Supremacy. I am angry I am not in that alternate universe where I could be with her, where she did not contribute to mass incarceration, where she did not support a man named Kissinger, where her future is not embedded with drones and bombs and coups. But I don’t live in that world, and while we will never know what that world would have looked like, or what could have been had she won, I can still be angry with her and be devastated by the promises and dreams of a woman-president-elect deferred.
I am angry at poor White People because you helped elect the beast. But I am angrier at middle-class and upper-class white people for tricking you yet again, for taking advantage of your poverty and disenfranchisement, for feeding you images of “us” that dehumanized us and made you fear Muslims, Black People, People of Color, LGBTQ (especially Transgender) people. I am angry that your own kin betrayed you and only allowed your voices to speak in hate. I am angry that when we tried to build solidarity with you because we understand the pain of poverty, other White Men destroyed the bridges we were building.
I am angry at White Republicans, but especially those who the night Trump was chosen as your nominee, disavowed him and said “not my party”. It is your party. I am angry at your denial, and that instead of doing what was necessary and looking in the mirror, your cowardice, for most of you, became a lukewarm resistance that never had you say the words “White Supremacy” or gave you the wind to seek out your brethren and convince them otherwise.
I am angry at White-Passing Latinos and Latinas who voted for this man, because again you chose a violence that your brothers and sisters would experience, a violence you would escape because of your ability to leave the borderlands and assimilate. I am angry at the White-Passing Latinos and Latinas who still don’t recognize their privilege and do nothing to combat their perpetuation of white supremacy.
I am angry at the White sociologist, criminologist, economist, academic who refuses to incorporate race and intersectionality, especially in the context of our nation and slavery and reconstruction and Jim Crow and mass incarceration, in their scholarship. I am angrier at the White academics who, despite the overwhelming evidence from their peers within the academy and without, choose to believe that racism has faded away, is an irrelevant variable in their linear regression, that is is too hard or too complicated to quantify, that it belongs to “those other disciplines” like Ethnic Studies because you are too lazy to learn and apply.
I am angry. I am angry. I am angry at every single White Person who lives in this country, because since the first White Man stepped foot unto the continent over 500 years ago, White Supremacy, in its many intersections, no matter how good you are, no matter how kind or loving, used you as a foot soldier, and sometimes a captain or general, to arrive here, where we find ourselves, yet again.
I am angry because I never thought I would have to be this afraid. I was always afraid, learned to fear for my life and the life of those I loved and the life of anyone who wasn’t White, especially a White Man, since that bullet grazed my face, since Rodney King, since the police brutality and murder of people, since the lynchings, since the mass murders, since the immigration raids, since the gun violence and the hunger of poverty and the hopelessness, since the wars perpetuated by my country throughout the world, but even in all that I saw the bright horizon, the horizon made closer by my ancestors, by abolitionists, by Black and Brown feminists, by the civil rights movement, by #BlackLivesMatter. Yet, when I woke on November 9th, I felt a fear for everyone I love that I never knew possible.
I am angry that every experience in my life was the work of White Supremacy, and sometimes White People sat by and did nothing. From the White Men that called me spic and wetback, the White teacher that didn’t believe in me and told me I’d never make it to college, my parents White friends who’d always ask if I felt safe at my predominantly Black and Brown school, my parents White bosses who ignored their stories and struggles and made fun of their accents and fired them for who they were or belittled them. I am angry at the six white NYPD officers who stopped and frisked me, who stopped and frisked thousands of Black and Latino youth just like me. I am angry at the white people who still call my friends nigger-sand nigger-kike-and every other racial epithet invented. I am angry at the White People who thought I was among them only because of affirmative action, that scolded me for my ghetto vernacular, who questioned my intelligence via the color of my skin and my history. I am angry at the White Woman who hurled racial slurs at a Black Man yesterday in front of me and threatened to call the cops because she was afraid.
I am angry that every time these things happen, I remember the death of millions at the hands of White Supremacy, the loss, the pain, the existential crisis within. I am angry that all I can do is remember and grieve and at times only feel utterly broken.
And I am angry at the White people I love so dearly. I am angry that my best friend failed so many times to listen to my fear, my best friend for failing to believe me, my best friend who is a cop who has failed to listen to us when we chant Black Lives Matter, not as an attack to him and his peers, but as a call to justice. I am angry at those White men and women closest to me who made me feel that I couldn’t say no to educating them because if not me, who? I am angry with them for not recognizing the emotional labour I have to reckon with for them. I am angry at the White People I love because I feel safe around them, because they have brought me such happiness with their friendship, because some of the greatest moments I have had is with them, and yet…
White Supremacy still pierces them and gives them weapons, sometimes in small words that I instantly forgive, but other times in more violent ways that cripple the love between us. Sometimes it keeps the people I love most blind from my pain, unable to empathize, unable to inspire them to come to my defense when I am crumbling beneath the weight of it all. White supremacy has not let go of the people I love, it does not let them hear me, see me, even when I am screaming. I am angry that White Supremacy does not let White People see me as human. It hurts when they choose to not listen, when they choose to dehumanize me, when they choose to place themselves above me, but it hurts more when they still don’t listen and still dehumanize me and still place their feelings above my own when think they aren’t racist, when they insist they’re good people, because they aren’t like “those” White People. It hurts more when the people I love do these things and don’t even know it, even when I tell them. That is why I am angry. I am angry that even the people I love, people I love I love I love sometimes cannot love me as completely as the universe intended or as I love them, because White Supremacy has wrapped itself around them so completely, that even when they tell me they have beaten back their internalized racism, I can never fully believe them. I do not want this, but it is my truth.
I’m angry that the love between White People and me, and the rest of us, isn’t enough. I’m angry that I don’t know what else to do, what else I can do to have them understand, have them listen, have them decide to stand with me in this battle against White Supremacy, the battle against our president-elect, that this fight needs them, that being a good person isn’t enough. I’m angry because what they have done for hundreds of years, even as allies, is not enough.
I am angry at you, White Person, for having made it this far, and in almost full certainty, still not listening to what I, and millions of others, have been saying since the dawn of this violent world that gave you your Whiteness. I am angry at you for still not listening to me, to us. And if you are listening, thank you, but know my anger does no dissipate because you hear me.
My anger almost got the best of me. Almost.
I was on the brink, but I didn’t fall. I am still angry, and I might be angry for the rest of my days. But I am human, that truth being what held me from the brink.
I am angry. I am sad. I am doubtful. I am hurt. I am afraid.
I am also filled with love, in love, giving love. I am proud of who I am, everything I’ve done. I am happy, despite it all.
I have never only been angry. I have been all things. But now, I hope you listened to this. I hope you saw me, this small part, integral to my whole, and essential to the fight ahead.
Forward. With rage. With love. With everything.